DSL -vs- Cable -vs- Satellite -vs- T1 Which is best?

The challenge of DSL -vs- Cable -vs- satellite Internet access is primarily in the residential and telecommuter markets. Within the past few years, Internet access via a cable modem has become available in many residential areas. When configured properly and under optimal conditions, cable has the capacity to transmit data twice the speed of DSL, and in some locations, even faster. Satellite allows you to escape the confines of the cable/wire but at much lower speeds and much higher price. Satellite may not work at all in the rain.
Cable Broadband Internet
Cable Internet access has drastically improved over the years and has become a very reliable means of surfing the Internet. One of the main benefits of a cable broadband connection is that fiber optics can handle a very large amount of bandwidth which translates into very fast access potential, perhaps double DSL speed. Also performance of cable Internet. does not depend on distance from the provider's network exchange or offices like it does with DSL. Cable Internet is perfect for streaming audio/video, videoconferencing, on-line gaming, application programs, telephone calling and other high-bandwidth services.
There can be some limitations for residential Cable services however. Cable Internet. is not a dedicated service to your home and in most cases, is provided through a shared network by your cable TV provider. When too many users in a neighborhood try to share the same cable, performance speeds can be reduced 50% or more as users compete for available bandwidth. Also there may be a slight security risks which can make users more vulnerable to data interception, unauthorized monitoring or hacking from an extreme hacker in the neighborhood since it is a shared line*.

When buying Cable Internet, check the upload and download speed. Many cable companies will throttle back the upload speed by as much as 75%. Also, If you purchase Cable Internet. at a certain speed, make sure your Cable Modem will operate at that speed. Otherwise, you may be paying for speed that you cannot use.
DSL (ADSL) Broadband Internet
DSL (AKA Digital Subscriber Line or ADSL- Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), is a digital Internet. connection that uses your existing copper telephone wiring to deliver high-speed data services to homes and businesses (2-wire). DSL provides a dedicated line to each Internet. user and is an \"always on\" high-speed connection. DSL not only provides high-speed access to the Internet, but it can also do streaming audio/video, videoconferencing, on-line gaming, application programs, telephone calling and other high-bandwidth services (same as cable modem). DSL generally connects to your PC via a DSL modem and it does not interfere with your telephone service.
There can be some limitations for DSL services as well... The maximum speed of DSL is determined by the distance between the customer's location and the Central Office (CO). Unlike cable Internet. which is not hindered by distance, DSL speeds tend to be slower the further away from the central office you are. It is extremely rare, but DSL can be hacked where the wire leaves the house and at the main connection boxes * Also, like Cable, DSL carriers tend to throttle the upload speed by as much as 75%.

Satellite Internet
Sustained download speeds typically have a maximum of 500k (roughly 1/6 of DSL and 1/10th of cable modem potential). Whilst Satellite carriers boast of upload and download speeds of 10 gigs or better, actual sustained performance has proven to be much much lower. Our &!@#$ service advertised 10 gigs download and 1 gig upload speed. Our actual speed averages 800k download and about 128k upload.

The biggest pit fall of satellite connections is that they often have \"lag-time\" when requesting information to and from the satellite. As a result, normal browsing may seem sluggish,  but large file downloads are generally much improved over traditional Dial-up connections. Often the upload transmissions on satellite connections run over a traditional dial-up modem at 56k baud or less.

Satellite is not fast enough for most streaming audio/video, videoconferencing, on-line gaming, application programs, telephone calling and other high-bandwidth services.

And on a cloudy or rainy day - you may have no Internet. access at all.

Another issue is the fact that bandwidth is limited or purchased in batches. When you exceed your bandwidth allotment, you might be shocked when you receive your bill.

Satellite connections require the installation of a dish and satellite transceiver at the user's location which may be purchased outright or leased. The dish then sends and receives data with an orbiting satellite, the distance of the transmission and weather can negatively affect performance (forget satellite Internet. in the rain).

Satellite Internet. does really shine in two areas:
1.    Rural areas beyond the reach of the cable/wire
2.    In a motorhome, airplane or such vehicle where satellite can provide Internet. access any place, anytime when you have line-of-site to the satellite (even whilst on the move). (except when it rains).

Being a point to point technology, satellite connections are less exposed than cable access.

Dedicated T1 Internet Service
T1s are large pipes used to transport digital voice and data signals from a business location to the Internet. or dedicated destination. This service can handle a great deal of bandwidth, both voice and data, and has 24 fixed channels to send information over. Unlike Cable, DSL, and Satellite, T1 bandwidth is guaranteed to remain constant.

Businesses can now lease a full T1 that will provide 1.54 Gigs of connectivity (guaranteed upload and download speed) with the flexibility to assign the available channels to voice or data. This is guaranteed throughput that can support up to 50 users comfortably, with each user having their own bandwidth so as not to slow down other users.

From a pricing standpoint the T1 used to be a great deal more expensive than DSL. Now, companies like Earthlink, Windstream, and Spirit are offering 4 telephone lines and a T1 for about $300.00 per month. With the guaranteed bandwidth and associated features, the service is well worth the price.

 * Please note: In all cases, whether you choose DSL, Cable, T1, or Satellite Internet., it would be wise to use some type of a firewall protection


Early Windows 8 look baffles consumers

The release of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system is a week away, and consumers are in for a shock. Windows, used in one form or another for a generation, is getting a completely different look that will force users to learn new ways to get things done.

Microsoft is making a radical break with the past to stay relevant in a world where smartphones and tablets have eroded the three-decade dominance of the personal computer. Windows 8 is supposed to tie together Microsoft's PC, tablet and phone software with one look. But judging by the reactions of some people who have tried the PC version, it's a move that risks confusing and alienating customers.

Tony Roos, an American missionary in Paris, installed a free preview version of Windows 8 on his aging laptop to see if Microsoft's new operating system would make the PC faster and more responsive. It didn't, he said, and he quickly learned that working with the new software requires tossing out a lot of what he knows about Windows.

"It was very difficult to get used to," he said. "I have an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old, and they never got used to it. They were like, `We're just going to use Mom's computer."'

'I have an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old, and they never got used to it.'

- Tony Roos, an American missionary in Paris, on an early preview version he tested

Windows 8 is the biggest revision of Microsoft Corp.'s operating system since it introduced Windows 95 amid great fanfare 17 years ago. Ultimately, Windows grew into a $14 billion a year business and helped make former Chief Executive Bill Gates the richest man in the world for a time. Now, due to smartphones and tablets, the personal computer industry is slumping. Computer companies are desperate for something that will get sales growing again. PC sales are expected to shrink this year for the first time since 2001, according to IHS iSuppli, a market research firm.

The question is whether the new version, which can be run on tablets and smartphones, along with the traditional PC, can satisfy the needs of both types of users.

"I am very worried that Microsoft may be about to shoot itself in the foot spectacularly," said. Michael Mace, the CEO of Silicon Valley software startup Cera Technology and a former Apple employee. Windows 8 is so different, he said, that many Windows users who aren't technophiles will feel lost, he said.

Microsoft is releasing Windows 8 on Oct. 26, and it doesn't plan to cushion the impact. Computer companies will make Windows 8 standard on practically all PCs that are sold to consumers.

Speaking to Wall Street analysts on Thursday, Microsoft's chief financial officer Peter Klein said he isn't very concerned that user confusion could slow the adoption of Windows 8. When Microsoft introduces new features, he said, people eventually realize that "those innovations have delivered way more value, way more productivity and way better usability." That's going to be true of Windows 8 too, he said.

Instead of the familiar Start menu and icons, Windows 8 displays applications as a colorful array of tiles, which can feature updated information from the applications. For instance, the "Photos" tile shows an image from the user's collection, and the "People" tile shows images from the user's social-media contacts. (Microsoft is licensed to use AP content in the Windows 8 news applications.)

On a conference call Thursday, an analyst asked Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein about the risk of introducing such a radical new system.

QUESTION: Over the past several months many of those reviewing Windows 8 for PCs, while praising the significant innovation behind the OS, have continued to focus on the dual interfaces and the adjustment that users will have to make. Is that something that causes you concern just when it comes to initial adoption levels of Windows 8?

RESPONSE: You know, not a lot .... At Microsoft when we do innovation, historically across our products, oftentimes there's new things that come. ... What we've seen over time is that those innovations deliver way more value, way more productivity and way better usability. I'm very confident that that is even more true with the great technology and capabilities in experiences that we have with Windows 8.

The tiles are big and easy to hit with a finger -- convenient for a touch screen. Applications fill the whole screen by default -- convenient for a tablet screen, which is usually smaller than a PC's. The little buttons that surround Windows 7 applications, for functions like controlling the speaker volume, are hidden, giving a clean, uncluttered view. When you need those little buttons, you can bring them out, but users have to figure out on their own how to do it.

"In the quest for simplicity, they sacrificed obviousness," said Sebastiaan de With, an interface designer and the chief creative officer at app developer DoubleTwist in San Francisco.

Technology blogger Chris Pirillo posted a YouTube video of his father using a preview version of Windows 8 for the first time. As the elder Pirillo tours the operating system with no help from his son, he blunders into the old "Desktop" environment and can't figure out how to get back to the Start tiles. (Hint: Move the mouse cursor into the top right corner of the screen, then swipe down to the "Start" button that appears, and click it. On a touch screen, swipe a finger in from the right edge of the screen to reveal the Start button.) The four-minute video has been viewed more than 1.1 million times since it was posted in March.

"There are many things that are hidden," said Raluca Budiu, a user experience specialist with Nielsen Norman Group. "Once users discover them, they have to remember where they are. People will have to work hard and use this system on a regular basis."

Mace, the software CEO, has used every version of Windows since version 2.0, which came out in 1987. Each one, he said, built upon the previous one. Users didn't need to toss out their old ways of doing things when new software came along. Windows 8 ditches that tradition of continuity, he said.

"Most Windows users don't view their PCs as being broken to begin with. If you tell them `Oh, here's a new version of Windows, and you have to relearn everything to use it,' how many normal users are going to want to do that?" he asked.

The familiar Windows Desktop is still available through one of the tiles, and most programs will open up in that environment. But since the Start button is gone, users will have to flip back and forth between the desktop and the tile screen.

There's additional potential for confusion because there's one version of Windows 8, called "Windows RT," that looks like the PC version but doesn't run regular Windows programs. It's intended for tablets and lightweight tablet-laptop hybrids.

Budiu believes the transition to Windows 8 will be most difficult for PC users, because Microsoft's design choices favor touch screens rather than mice and keyboards. Alex Wukovich, a Londoner who tried Windows 8 on a friend's laptop, agrees.

"On a desktop, it just felt really weird," he said. "It feels like it's a tablet operating system that Microsoft managed to twist and shoehorn onto a desktop."

Not everyone who has tried Windows 8 agrees with the critics.

Sheldon Skaggs, a Web developer in Charlotte, N.C., thought he was going to hate Windows 8, but he needed to do something to speed up his 5-year-old laptop. So he installed the new software.

"After a bit of a learning curve and playing around with it a bit more, you get used to it, surprisingly," he said.

The computer now boots up faster than it did with Windows Vista, he said.

Vista was Microsoft's most recent operating-system flop. It was seen as so clunky and buggy when released in 2007 that many PC users sat out the upgrade cycle and waited for Windows 7, which arrived two and a half years later. Companies and other institutions wait much longer than consumers to upgrade their software, and many will keep paying for Windows 7. Many companies are still using Windows XP, released in 2001.

Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial, is optimistic about Windows 8, pointing out that it's snappy and runs well on PCs with limited processing power, making it suited for compact, tablet-style machines. But he also notes that through Microsoft's history, roughly every other operating-system release has been a letdown.

Intel Corp. makes the processors that go into 80 percent of PCs, and has a strong interest in the success of Windows. CEO Paul Otellini said Tuesday that when the company has let consumers try Windows 8 on expensive "ultrabook" laptops with touch screens, "the feedback is universally positive." But he told analysts that he doesn't really know if people will embrace Windows 8 for mainstream PCs.

"We'll know a lot more about this 90 days from now," he said.

$200 Kindle Fire Burning Up the Android Tablet Competition

The Kindle Fire, Amazon's hot rod e-reader, had an astounding 54 percent of the Android tablet market just four months after its release. No one else was even close, according to a report by comScore, a digital market research firm.

A ConsumerAffairs analysis of about 940,000 consumer comments on Facebook, Twitter and other social media finds a similarly meteoric rise in net sentiment, with a positive rating of 72 percent last month.

Read More - Click Here!

What does the Kindle Fire do?

Movies, apps, games, music, reading and more, plus Amazon's revolutionary, cloud-accelerated web browser
  • Over 20 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books
  • Thousands of popular apps and games, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and more
  • Ultra-fast web browsing - Amazon Silk
  • Free cloud storage for all your Amazon content
  • Vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle - same as an iPad
  • Fast, powerful dual-core processor
  • Favorite children's books, graphic novels, and magazines in rich color
  • Amazon Prime Members enjoy unlimited, instant streaming on thousands of popular movies and TV shows. Learn More
  • Amazon Prime Members choose from over a hundred thousand books to borrow for free. Learn More

(Reuters) - Inc's stellar quarterly results are helping convince skeptics on Wall Street that a bout of intense spending is beginning to pay off for an Internet retailer trying to transform itself into a technology company.

Shares in Amazon leapt 15 percent on Friday after it reported first-quarter earnings and margins well above investors' most bullish expectations, tacking on some $10 billion in market value and marking its biggest single-day gain since October of 2009.

CEO Jeff Bezos has tried to convince investors to stick with the company for the long term as it flirted with losses in recent quarters. He is trying to transform Amazon from an online version of a big-box retailer like Wal-Mart into a provider of technology services.

Read More - Click Here!


'Leave Computers On or Off Overnight???

Leave Computers On or Off Overnight???

By request, I've searched and researched the question as to whether to leave the computers on or turn them off when not in use. I searched my personal archives, the internet, and interrogated fellow computer repair people, and engineer, and even stumbled upon a thesis from MIT. A strong case can be made for either side of the issue so please read on and decide for yourself. But don't worry, I won't leave you hanging. I will also let you know what I do with my computers.

Arguments for turning the computers off:
Old school logic would have you turn off your computer when not in use. Computers used to consume $10.00 of electricity each month. That alone would move me to click the off switch. In addition, the bearings on cooling fans and hard drives were not so good and would wear out in about a years worth of continuous running. Let's see 8 hours of work and 16 hours of running idle - Old school says "Turn It Off!"

Home computers were used differently back then too. Dad did the check-book and played pong or pac-man. Mom played a little solitaire and that was it. The computer was used an hour or so during the evening, then turned off until the next time.

Electrical Theory: The electrical theory is that during operation a piece of equipment is subjected to more surges in power than the initial surge whilst turning on and off is worth, which means over time more damage is done with the power on. Also, electrical parts wear out due to constant heat. It's more of a high mileage theory, with the analogy, "Light bulbs are rated for so many hours of use, and once they're used, the bulb will blow".

Conspiracy Theory: Electrical power companies have conspired to convince people to leave their equipment on to increase profitability. (Believe it or not, most of the folks I asked the suggested turning off the computer when not in use, came up with this reason first, and, frankly, it made me question everything else they said).

Arguments for leaving the computers on:
Power and Torque: At the instant that an electrical device is turned on or off to a power source, there is an electrical burst of energy comparable to a mechanical "jerk\" The rate of change is instantaneous and infinite. This electrical "jerk", surge, or spike, for an instantaneous moment, brings voltages much much much higher than the 5 or 12 volts normally used to power the devices inside your computer.

Notable as well, motors such as the electrical motors in the hard drives, floppy drives, CD/DVD, and fans take a big shock called torque when it goes from running at 7200 rpms to a dead stop. This is repeated when the switch is turned on and these devices go from 0 rpm to 7200 rpm.

All of this means that at the moment the machine is turned on, an incredible amount of current is necessary to get things moving, and the mechanical torque and electrical surge is at it's highest, usually instantaneously higher than the tolerances of the equipment. This is the point where equipment usually fails, as it is the greatest amount of instantaneous load that can be put on the equipment.

Case and point, A light bulb never blows when it's already on, it only blows when it is turned on. Same is usually true with a computer.
I personally keep my computers on 24/7 for several reasons:

1.    I don't believe in conspiracy theories.

2.    Computers draw much less electricity than in yesteryear. A typical DuelPro 2 gigs of ram, 320 gig drive, CD/DVD will cost about $30.00 a year to leave on ($2.50 a month – 8 cents a day).

3.    The toque / spike thing came from an engineer that I trust. It's real and is not impacted or improved by a surge protector or battery backup.

4.    Surge protectors or Battery Backups (UPS), particularly those that run the computer off of the battery, nearly eliminates spikes and surges whilst running your computer. (However, they do nothing to improve spike and torque issues whilst turning the computer on and off.)

5.    Microsoft Updates can occur at 3:00am and be complete by the time you wake up and start using your computer at 6:00am (some of these take an hour or more to complete)

6.    Anti-Virus Updates and scans can occur during the night rather than when you are trying to boot your computer to quickly see your checking account balance.

OK!  I spilled the beans! I recommend leaving the computer on 24/7, as well as modems, routers, and firewalls.

However, I do turn off printers, monitors, audio equipment, cameras, and most other peripherals connected to the computer. Why?

1.    Many of these devices such as monitors use more electricity than the computer (savings)

2.    Most peripheral devices turn on and off instantly no wait.

3.    Most peripheral are tougher than computers and can take the abuse

4.    Most peripheral are no subject to Microsoft Updates and Anti-Virus Updates

5.    Most peripheral are very inexpensive to replace VS a computer


10 reasons to be wary of Google in business By Justin James

Takeaway: Google caters well to consumers, but it falls short of meeting the business needs of larger organizations. Here are the biggest areas of concern.

Without a doubt, Google is playing a larger and larger role in business IT. But as many have found out, doing business with Google requires certain expectations to be set up front. This is not to say that doing business with it is awful, or that other companies do not have many of these issues as well, of course. Still, there are some good reasons to be wary about doing business with Google.
1: Customer support is not its forte
The biggest reason to think twice about doing business with Google is that its organization is simply not designed to provide support for customers. Google has recently opened some phone numbers for customers to reach them, but by and large they prefer support to be email only (if they provide it at all). This is a perfectly fine approach for a free or ad-supported product. But if you are hoping to run a business built on Google’s offerings, you’ll want to check out the support options first.
2: Leadership has questionable views on privacy
Eric Schmidt (executive chair of Google’s board) recently joked about whether your Android contact list and most recent calls should be used to customize advertising. Whether Google is heading in that direction or not, no one wants to think that Google takes these matters lightly. Time and time again, Google’s executives (particularly Mr. Schmidt) have made it clear that they will get as much data generated by your online activities as legally and technically possible. Is that necessarily bad? No. But their attitude seems to be that if you want any kind of online privacy, you need to go through extreme measures.
3: It makes its living by leveraging information about you
Most users never stop for a moment to ask themselves how Google can do so much for no cost to them. Of course, the answer is advertising, and that is nothing new. But what makes Google’s advertisements so valuable is not just their wide reach but the selective targeting. You see, Google has taken the same engineering that produced its excellent search engine and applied the effort toward linking ads to people, based in no small part upon the data harvested as a result of your daily interactions with them.
Of course, seeing ads on Google Search based on previous searches is not a shock. But it’s a bit creepy (and occasionally embarrassing) when you go to a site and look at products there, and then ads from that site follow you around to every site you visit for months. If you want to know what other users do with their computers, just look at what ads Google displays for them.
In addition to the inherent privacy concerns (”What if a hacker gets a hold of this?” and “What if other sites figure out how to use this?”), there are legal concerns. As the government continues to subpoena Google’s data, it is quite possible that data concerning you will end up in a government database, and who knows where it will go from there.
4: It’s too willing to yank products and APIs
Google is famous for rolling out new products on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it is also famous for pulling the plug on them. Sure, other companies do the same thing. But Google’s threshold for failure feels a lot lower. Even more frustrating is when it does this with APIs. It has become clear that Google opens APIs to study usage in the wild, but once it has learned what it wanted to, Google shuts down the APIs. This may work great for Google, but it is a nightmare scenario for companies that depend upon its products and services.
5: Quality is sometimes lacking
Overall, the quality of Google products is high. But there are some exceptions, and those exceptions (especially Android’s issues) are quite visible and damaging. Google’s “perpetual beta” was cute when it was Gmail or Orkut. When the same mentality is applied to your phone’s OS or your business email, it is an entirely different story. Google seems to currently view its target audience as consumers or small businesses for whom its applications are not mission critical.
6: It has minimal contact with real-world users
Google takes an extremely data-driven approach to deciding how to do things. For example, its usability changes are driven by massive amounts of data. It will roll out a change to a “small” group of users (which could be millions of people), observe how usage patterns change, and then make decisions from there. Google is lucky to have one of the largest user bases in the world for its applications, so it can take this approach and have tons of data.
Google doesn’t like user feedback, in large part because it is hard to quantify. The problem is that it believes the data, not users. While this isn’t terribly surprising (IT professionals have plenty of horror stories about how they did what users wanted, and it was a mess), it can be very frustrating to work with Google or to hope for a particular feature or change to be made. There just isn’t a way for the voice of the customer to be heard.
7: There are no SLAs
Google doesn’t do SLAs because, for the most part, Google doesn’t have any contracts to use its services. Now, that said, Google’s track record with uptime has been pretty good; better than most, honestly. If you look at its history over the last few years, an SLA is more a security blanket for you than anything else, and it would not change how it runs its business one bit anyway.
8: It has a consumer focus for features
One of the big reasons why Google has done so well is that its solutions cater well to consumers, and by extension, small businesses. At the same time, large companies have needs as well, and Google just does not meet them. For example, where is the federated Active Directory authentication for Google Apps for Business or the central management of Android phones? Those are the kinds of things that businesses need but consumers and small businesses do not. And until Google expands its focus a bit, these needs will not be met.
9: You are not important to Google
If you are part of a business, the traditional customer-vendor relationship is familiar, comfortable, and normal to you. But this is not in Google’s DNA. Google’s main currency is actually your clickstream data. Why does it give away Google Analytics? So it can collect clickstream data? Gmail? Search? Same thing. Its APIs? More data to feed the machine. Google’s true business is to run a commodities market where it is both the market itself and the sole producer of the commodity. In Google’s eyes, it is seller’s market. You have no other choices, and there are plenty of other people happy to buy that same commodity. Where other vendors would work hard to keep you happy, Google does not even bother to tell you to take a hike.
10: Google does not cater to business expectations
Google is really good at getting individuals and small businesses the products they need for free or nearly free. But it struggles when doing business with enterprises because the expectations are different. Google succeeds with the smaller companies because they understand that you get what you pay for. They don’t feel that a service that is free, or nearly so, is worth complaining about.
An enterprise, though, is often willing to pay more money to get certain things, like no ads, preferential treatment, a dedicated account executive, and SLAs. These are not bad things. But again, Google just is not set up to do business like this (with the exception of Google Apps for Business). Because it has such minimal interaction with you as client, it isn’t going to understand your needs, let alone try to cater to them. If what it delivers is fine with you, that’s great. But if you want the handholding, customization, support, etc., that a traditional vendor will sell you for an upcharge, Google isn’t going to be providing it.

16 things successful people do on Monday mornings

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Running Runners California Muscular Man Jogging Barefoot Sneakers

(Chris Hunkeler / Flickr) One  thing successful people do Monday morning: They wake up early and exercise. 

(Jacquelyn Smith@ BusinessInsider) Monday mornings are the most critical time of the workweek — they set the stage for the day and week ahead.

"Because you've stepped away for a couple days, these back-to-work mornings are the most memorable for the rest of the week," says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job." 

"They influence your mindset in a positive or negative way, depending on what actions you decide to take," Taylor says.

Most successful people are keenly aware of the typical Monday-morning workplace dynamic of unanticipated events, overflow of communications, and general chaos. "But after weathering hundreds of them, they realize they must gain control and stay upbeat," Taylor explains. "They take extra steps to compensate for this busy time of the week, and apply their best management skills to ensure that the day unfolds as smoothly as possible."

Here are 16 things successful people do on Monday mornings:

1. They wake up early. Successful people go to sleep at a decent hour on Sunday night, get a good night's sleep, and wake up early Monday morning. 

"When the alarm goes off and the voice tells you that you went to bed far too late to get up this early, or that five more minutes won't hurt, DON'T LISTEN!" writes Ciara Conlon for Lifehack. "When you are in charge of the inner voice, there will be no stopping you."

2. They exercise. Working out gets your circulation going and helps you stay alert, putting you at an advantage for a productive week ahead. "You'll get your endorphin rush, which will help your mood, too," Taylor says.

3. They eat a healthy breakfast. On Monday morning, you want to handle everything you have control over. Eating breakfast is one of those things. "You don't want to be staring at the clock, awaiting lunch time as your stomach growls at morning meetings," she says.


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(Tella Chen/flickr) 
4. They arrive early. 
Do not succumb to the snooze button. "Commutes are bad on Monday, so beat the odds," Taylor says. Plus, getting in earlier than others will help make Monday morning seem more like the afternoon because you'll have had a chance to breathe before responding to the barrage of people and issues. "Being an early bird will give you some wiggle room for the unexpected at work, not to mention any important personal matters that may arise," she says.


5. They clear their desk and desktop. "Hopefully you already did this before you left on Friday. But if you didn't, get this out of the way, or you might add to Monday stresses in a sea of disorganization," Taylor says. Organize and prioritize your files. Put aside unimportant paperwork and keep critical files easily accessible. You want to be prepared when you, your boss, or colleagues need something at the last minute.

6. They carve out time for unexpected projects and tasks. Successful individuals expect the unexpected on Monday, she says. "Your boss, team members, or staff may have remembered some loose ends over the weekend, so you're wise to build in some extra down time on Monday morning."

7. They greet their team and boss. This is important to do first thing every morning to keep morale high, but on Monday it's particularly valuable, as your team needs a special boost. "Ideally, you'll spend an few extra minutes with your colleagues on Monday mornings. It reinforces a sense of purpose and community for everyone, including you," Taylor explains.


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boss workplace

(University of Exeter/Flickr) 
8. They update their to-do list and goals. "Get yourself current on priorities and tasks," Taylor suggests. Then set five to eight goals for the week.


"Accomplished professionals have several goals in mind for the day and week," she says. "They know that if all goals aren't achieved, they can take pride in accomplishing most of them, and there's next week to achieve additional objectives."

9. They visualize the week's successes. By envisioning the positive outcomes of various projects at hand, you can work backward and determine the necessary steps to get your desired results.

10. They screen emails for urgent requests. You can sink into email oblivion if you don't scan your inbox for urgency, Taylor says. "Star emails that are priorities and think quality, not quantity."

11. They tackle the tough challenges first. The least desirable but critical projects are easy to put off, but your energy is stronger in the morning, so that's the ideal time to confront the most difficult assignments.

12. They make an extra effort to smile. "It might be the last thing on your mind, but overcompensating for the pressure cooker morning will help you get through it," she says. You may well stand out in the crowd, but your smile will likely be contagious, helping both you and team members relax.




Office smile happy

(Flickr/Highways Agency) 
13. They add a "blanket of humanity" to their emails. It's tempting to power through all your emails in the most efficient way on Monday mornings. But before you hit send, read them over to ensure that they're friendly and clear. "Put yourself in the recipient's shoes. It's relatively easy to appear curt when you're in a hurry, along with the impersonal nature of emails and texts. You want to mitigate false starts and misinterpretations," Taylor says. One way to do this: Start the email by saying "Hi" and "I hope you had a great weekend."


14. They're able to say no. "On Monday mornings there will be many distractions — from people, to emails, to calls, meetings, offers for meeting in the break room, and so forth," Taylor explains. "Successful people can diplomatically and politely say no to colleagues by offering to engage at a later time."

If your boss needs you, that is clearly an exception. However, if you have crucial calls to make or meetings to attend, give your boss the heads-up. "It's stressful to be a people pleaser, particularly on Monday mornings. Generally, no one ends up being pleased, as you can't do your best work with conflicting priorities."

15. They stay focused. Successful people don't dwell on any challenging events that occurred over the weekend, or other frivolous thoughts. "Compartmentalize by putting them in a separate 'box' as you start your week," she says.

16. They remember that there is Tuesday. "In all the chaos it's easy to believe that the world will cave if you don't solve all Monday's problems on Monday," she says. "But when the dust settles at the end of the day, you may realize that certain tasks could have waited." Sometimes you obtain more information over time that enhances your decision-making. Or you may find that certain problems you're pondering will resolve themselves.

Monday morning can challenge even the most industrious, successful business leaders. "But if you compensate for all the anticipated distraction and intensity by remembering to focus, plan, and stay calm, you won't relive Monday all over again on Tuesday," Taylor says

20 seconds of BLINKING can stop computer users getting eye strain

(Mark Prigg @ mailOnline)Researchers have come up with a simple exercise they claim could stop computer users getting eye strain.


They say blinking 20 times in a row every 20 minutes should be combined with looking away from the screen for 20 seconds and focusing on an object 20 feet away.

The '20-20-20-20' strategy has been designed as a solution to computer vision syndrome (CVS) which affects millions of workers and games addicts.

Scientists claim blinking 20 times in a row every 20 minutes should be combined with looking away from the screen for 20 seconds and focusing on an object 20 feet away

Scientists claim blinking 20 times in a row every 20 minutes should be combined with looking away from the screen for 20 seconds and focusing on an object 20 feet away

THE 20-20-20-20 SYSTEM

The strategy is simple.

Blinking 20 times in a row every 20 minutes should be combined with looking away from the screen for 20 seconds and focusing on an object 20 feet away.

Symptoms such as dry and tired eyes, headaches and sore necks and joints are usually temporary but for many can be a daily problem that leads them to seek medical help.

Those most at risk are anyone who spends three or more hours a day in front of a computer, but it can be painful and lead to many being prescribed glasses.

But although it may look a bit odd, a regular bout of blinking could help, said researcher Dr Edward Mendelson from the Southwestern Medical Centre at the University of Texas. 

He said: 'Every 20 minutes the computer user should take a break for 20 seconds and look at objects that are 20 feet away.

'And give yourself 20 good blinks - blinking is nature's way of keeping the eyes moist and those blinks help to lubricate and refresh.'

Anyone who spends long periods in front of a screen is at risk but it is often worse for workers because of the sterile and unnatural conditions in modern office blocks.

Experts say the advice could help those who suffer from eye strain after a day staring at a computer screen

Experts say the advice could help those who suffer from eye strain after a day staring at a computer screen

Dr Mendelson added: 'Today's offices are commonly cool and dry, which is nice and comfortable, except for the eyes.'

Eye drops taken before work begins can help with dry eyes but a break from a screen can also help with the other elements of CVS like neck, muscle and headaches from being sat in one position for too long, researchers say.

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3-D pen that lets you draw objects in the air

(Brandon Griggs@CNN) We're all doodlers by nature. Give most people a pen, paper and some down time, and they'll fill the margins with the fruits of their imagination.

But imagine if you could wave a pen in the air and create a three-dimensional rendering: A toy, a sculpture, a crude architectural model.

Soon you will. A Boston-based startup, WobbleWorks, has created what they are calling the world's first 3-D printing pen. It's called the 3Doodler, and it's been a sensation on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site, since it debuted there Tuesday morning. The makers of the 3Doodler set a modest fundraising goal of $30,000; within 48 hours, backers had pledged more than $1.1 million.

"We knew it was a great product. But we didn't expect the response to be this fast," said Daniel Cowen, a spokesman for the gadget, which is still a prototype. "The velocity of the response caught us by surprise. It's phenomenal."

The 3Doodler plugs into an electrical outlet and works sort of like a glue gun. As the pen draws, it oozes heated plastic, which quickly cools and solidifies, allowing  its user to build an infinite variety of patterns and shapes. Its makers say it works on surfaces or in the air.

Users load spaghetti-like strands of non-toxic ABS plastic - the same stuff that's in 3-D printers - into the back of the pen. (A biogradeable form of plastic made from corn is also available.) The 3Doodler's makers say each one-foot strand of plastic, available in a wide range of colors, can produce about 11 feet of moldable material.

WobbleWorks sees the 3Doodler as a simple and affordable form of 3-D printing, an emerging form of manufacturing that uses computer models to help machines build plastic objects. The MakerBot Replicator 2, perhaps the best-known 3-D printer for the home, costs $2,200. Cowen said they expect to sell the 3Doodler for $75, which includes a small bag of plastic strands.

Additional 1kg spools of plastic will be available from a variety of sources for $30 to $55, WobbleWorks says.  The pen's makers say the average 1kg spool of 3mm ABS plastic will supply roughly 4,000 feet of 3Doodling, or about the height of three Empire State Buildings.

The gadget is shaping up to be a hit for WobbleWorks, a small toy and robotics company led by computer engineers Peter Dilworth and Maxwell Bogue.

If manufacturing goes according to schedule, the first buyers will receive their 3Doodlers in September, Cowen said. Buyers who order now won't receive the pen until November, he said.

The makers of 3Doodler have been collaborating with wire artists on Etsy, the crafts website, to show how the pen can be used to create artwork, jewelry and other objects.

"We really want to create a community around 3Doodler," Cowen said. With more than 13,000 financial backers already on Kickstarter, they may already have.


( @ DigitalTrends) You’ve probably seen 32-bit and 64-bit options available whenever you download an app, or install a game. Your PC might even have a sticker that says it has a 64-bit processor. But does it really matter? Nearly every PC nowadays has a 64-bit processor now, so why should you care about the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems?

Well, for starters, if you’re a Windows user, you’ve probably noticed that you have two Program Files folders — one labeled simply “Program Files” and the other labeled “Program Files (x86).” Understanding the difference between these two folders and why you have them in the first place is pretty important, especially if you’ve ever installed the wrong program in the wrong folder. It’s the kind of thing you’ll never notice until you accidentally do it and your apps start misbehaving.

The same, but different

First off, the reason you have those two folders is because there are currently two fundamentally different architectures used to manufacture computer processors, and as a result, there are two fundamentally different ways to write programs and apps. Applications all use shared resources on a Windows system; these are called DLL files, or Dynamic Link Libraries. They’re basically just pooled libraries of common resources that many different apps will use. Windows puts them all in a single place to make things easier for software developers.

So those DLL files are written and structured in fundamentally different ways because they’re meant to be used by 64-bit applications or 32-bit applications. If, for instance, a 32-bit application reaches out for a DLL and finds a 64-bit version, it’s just going to stop working. Imagine going into a library to find a specific textbook, and then realizing that everything is in a foreign language. You’d likely leave and assume you went to the wrong place right. Same basic principle applies here.

Wouldn’t it be easier if you simply used 64-bit software on 64-bit systems, and ignore 32-bit software entirely? Well, not really. The problem is the 32-bit (x86) architecture has been around for a very long time, and there are still a host of applications that utilize 32-bit architecture. Modern 64-bit systems can run 32-bit and 64-bit software because of a very simple and easy solution: two separate Program Files directories. When 32-bit applications are sequestered to the appropriate x86 folder, Windows knows to serve up the right DLL, aka the 32-bit version. Everything in the regular Program Files directory, on the other hand, can access the other stuff, the good stuff.

So why does it even matter, why do we have these two different architectures at all?

What are bits?

The number of bits in a processor refers to the size of the data types that it handles and the size of its registry. Simply put, a 64-bit processor is more capable than a 32-bit processor because it can handle more data at once. A 64-bit processor is capable of storing more computational values, including memory addresses, which means it’s able to access over four billion times as much physical memory than a 32-bit processor. That’s just as big as it sounds. 64-bit processors are to 32-bit processors what the automobile is to the horse-drawn buggy.

The key difference: 32-bit processors are perfectly capable of handling a limited amount of RAM (in Windows, 4GB or less), and 64-bit processors are capable of utilizing much more. Of course, in order to achieve this, your operating system also needs to be designed to take advantage of the greater access to memory. This Microsoft page runs down memory limitations for multiple versions of Windows. A horse-drawn cart will get you to work just as easily as a car will, barring any equine issues, but a car is a lot more capable – it can get you to work, or across the country and it can do it a lot faster than a horse can.

How many bits?

As a general rule, if you have under 4GB of RAM in your computer, you don’t need a 64-bit CPU, but if you have 4GB or more, you do. While many users may find that a 32-bit processor provides them with enough performance and memory access, applications that tend to use large amounts of memory may show vast improvements with the upgraded processor. Image and video editing software, 3D rendering utilities, and video games will make better use of a 64-bit architecture and operating system, especially if the machine has 8GB or even 16GB of RAM that can be divided among the applications that need it.

Through hardware emulation, it’s possible to run 32-bit software and operating systems on a machine with a 64-bit processor. The opposite isn’t true however, in that 32-bit processors cannot run software designed with 64-bit architecture in mind. This means if you want to take full advantage of your new processor you also need a new operating system, otherwise you won’t experience any marked benefits over the 32-bit version of your hardware.

Operating System Differences

With an increase in the availability of 64-bit processors and larger capacities of RAM, Microsoft and Apple both have upgraded versions of their operating systems that are designed to take full advantage of the new technology.

In the case of Microsoft Windows, the basic versions of the operating systems put software limitations on the amount of RAM that can be used by applications, but even in the ultimate and professional version of the operating system, 4GB is the maximum usable memory the 32-bit version can handle. While a 64-bit operating system can increase the capabilities of a processor drastically, the real jump in power comes from software designed with this architecture in mind.

Software and Drivers

Applications with high performance demands already take advantage of the increase in available memory, with companies releasing 64-bit versions of their programs. This is especially useful in programs that can store a lot of information for immediate access, like image editing software that opens multiple large files at the same time.

Video games are also uniquely equipped to take advantage of 64-bit processing and the increased memory that comes with it. Being able to handle more computations at once means more spaceships on screen without lagging and smoother performance from your graphics card, which doesn’t have to share memory with other processes anymore.

Most software is backwards compatible, allowing you to run applications that are 32-bit in a 64-bit environment without any extra work or issues. Virus protection software and drivers tend to be the exception to this rule, with hardware mostly requiring the proper version be installed in order to function correctly.


5 Top Operating Systems For Your Business

The choice a business owner makes in operating systems is integral, as their costs vary as enormously as their capabilities. An operating system is the behind-the-scenes warrior of your computer -- it's the host of the computer that sets the standards for all application programs and handles the details of the operation of the hardware. Here are the pros and cons of the top five operating systems.

5 things to know before buying a camera


Sony NEX 7.jpg(Kim Komando @ FoxNews) It's the hottest selling camera now. Hybrid cameras, also called mirrorless or compact-system cameras, are compact like a point-and-shoot camera but offer a larger image sensor for better-quality shots. Plus, like more expensive DSLRs, you can change lenses to fit the scene you're shooting.

It's no wonder hybrids are a favorite of hobbyists and professionals alike. Before you head to the store, here are five things you need to know about buying the perfect hybrid camera.

1. Know your image sensors
The image sensor is what captures the light from the object you're shooting. The two main sensor sizes for hybrids are Micro Four Thirds and APS-C.

The smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor is great for portability, but can sacrifice some picture quality. The larger APS-C sensor will add bulk, but can provide better image quality and low-light shooting.

Along with size, you have to consider megapixels, or the number of pixels the sensor can capture. Hybrids typically have 14MP to 24MP. For standard-size photo printing, any amount will work. If you're printing large posters or doing detailed photo editing, more megapixels is better.

If you need a big sensor and lots of megapixels, consider Sony's NEX 7 ($1,099 with 18-55mm lens) with its 24.3MP, APS-C sensor. For a Micro Four Thirds camera, the Panasonic Lumix and Olympus PEN lines are popular options.

Click here to avoid the one mistake every new camera owner makes.

2. Lenses, lenses, lenses
One of the big selling points of hybrids is interchangeable lenses. You can get lenses for close, wide-angle, distance and other types of shots. Make sure you know what lenses are compatible with your camera before you buy.

Micro Four Thirds cameras generally have the widest range of options. You'll find everything from high-end Leica DG lenses to inexpensive "toy camera" Holga lenses.

3. Manual controls
Both professional and hobbyist photographers know the power of manual camera settings. You can tweak your camera for exposure, depth of field, shutter speed and much more to get the perfect shot.

If you need fast setting changes, you want a camera that makes it easy. The Samsung NX20 ($1,099.99 with 18-55mm lens), for example, lets you scroll through settings using the lens' manual focus ring. And the shutter button on the Panasonic Lumix GF6 ($598 with 14-42mm lens) has a quick-access lever that controls aperture and zoom.

However, other cameras might bury important settings away where they're harder to access.

4. The viewfinder
Hybrids use electronic viewfinders to show you what you're shooting. Most hybrids use LCD screens, but OLED screens, which are thinner and brighter outdoors, are also available.

Sony's NEX 7, for example, has two viewfinders. One is a 3-inch, tiltable LCD screen. The other is a small eye-level OLED viewfinder, which gives you the feeling of shooting through a DSLR.

The Panasonic Lumix GF6 has a 3-inch, LCD touch screen that lets you focus and take pictures with a tap on the viewfinder. It also tilts 180 degrees, so you can flip it around for easy self-portraits.

5. Price
With a wide range of price points and features, finding your perfect hybrid camera takes some work.

Click here to learn about buying the right high-quality memory cards for your new camera.

If you're just getting into photography, a lower-priced model like the Sony NEX-3N ($449 with 16-50mm lens) is a solid option. It has a 16.1MP sensor, built-in flash and comes with a collapsible power zoom kit lens.

The Nikon AW1 ($799 with 11-27.5mm lens) is a good mid-range option. It has a 14.2MP sensor, built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. For outdoor shooting, the AW1 is waterproof, freezeproof and shockproof.

Then there are high-end models like Olympus' E-M1 ($1,399.99, body only). It has a splash-proof and dust-resistant body, a fast shutter speed for action shots, Wi-Fi and a tilting touch-screen LCD viewfinder.

In the end, buying a camera is a very personal choice. I strongly recommend visiting a store and playing around with a number of models to find the best fit for you.

Now that you know all about the latest hybrid cameras, get the most out of your new camera with my Essential Guide to Digital Photography.

Copyright 2013, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast, watch the show or find the station nearest you, visit: To subscribe to Kim's free email newsletters, sign-up at:

50 Blog Ideas by Carol Tice

Blogging can be a great way to draw new customers to your business website. But if your blog hasn't been updated in months or all your posts are thinly disguised sales pitches, your blog marketing plan could backfire.

A great business blog doesn't sell. Instead, it shows customers why they should do business with you and not your competitors.

The key to a successful business blog is variety -- so mix it up with different types of posts. If every post is "Seven Ways to Use Our Product," it's going to get old fast.

Here are 50 types of blog posts that can draw new visitors and help build customer relationships.

  1. Customer success story. When you receive a great testimonial from a customer, ask for permission to turn it into a post. Use the post to solicit more customer stories.
  2. Mention a popular post. If you notice a post by a popular blogger in your niche getting a lot of attention, add your viewpoint and link to the original post. Be sure to let that A-list blogger know about your comment and link.
  3. Disagree with a popular opinion. Get traffic by stirring up controversy and taking a contrary position.
  4. Riff on the news. How are current events affecting your customers? Run a Google Alert on certain keywords related to your business or industry to find relevant news items to discuss.
  5. Compile a link roundup. If you notice several interesting opinions on a topic, you can pull them together into a single post of the best ideas.
  6. Play off the familiar. Mention a celebrity or a pop culture touchstone and your readers will instantly relate.
  7. Answer the questions everyone is asking. An FAQ post shows you're responsive and saves customers time.
  8. Pose your own question. What would you like to know about your customers? Just ask, and let your readers create the content.
  9. Talk about trends. You convey authority when you tell how things are evolving in your industry.
  10. Discuss future plans. Give readers a sneak peek at what you'll do in the coming year to start generating interest.
  11. Review a book. If you've read a book you think customers might like, give it a write-up.
  12. Review a product or service. This shouldn't be one of your own products or services or a direct competitor's offering, but rather a related item your customers might want to learn about.
  13. Comparison test. Provide even more value by comparing two or more related products or services.
  14. Post a video. Create variety with a video post. You can give a sneak preview of a new product or show a promotional event.
  15. Make a podcast. Record a quick interview with an expert, or just give a few of your own useful tips.
  16. Create an infographic. Fact-filled, graphic posts get shared a lot on social networks. This infographic got more than 10,000 retweets.
  17. Report on a conference. Quote inspiring speakers or tell readers about the latest trends and ideas from the conference that you'll be implementing.
  18. Go behind the scenes. Give readers a photo or video tour of your plant, customer service desk or the backroom of your store.
  19. Explain how you do it. Do you have a special way you make your product, handle returns or welcome new customers? Describe your process.
  20. Staff profiles. Give a human face to your company by introducing new or seasoned employees.
  21. Show your charity work. If your business gives back to the community, post a video or photo essay of that park your staff cleaned up.
  22. Gush about your idols. Talk about the blogs you read regularly or the thought leaders who inspire you. Be sure to alert those bloggers and business gurus so they'll spread the word.
  23. Have a debate. Invite someone who disagrees with your views to do a "Point/Counterpoint" post.
  24. Talk about your blunders. Everyone loves to read about business failures. End your post by telling how you're fixing the problem.
  25. Create a regular feature. Do a "customer of the week" spotlight or create a monthly collection of the best online articles that match your customers' interests.
  26. Write a series. If you'd like to teach customers something complicated, break the topic into several parts. Series are an effective way to turn casual readers into subscribers.
  27. Make a prediction. Everybody wants to know what may happen in the future, so share your opinion.
  28. Conduct market research. Are you wondering which product name would attract more customers? Hold a virtual focus group on a blog post.
  29. Create a contest. Offer a prize for the most interesting customer suggestion or use of your product.
  30. Take a reader poll. SurveyMonkey makes this easy. Or you can simply set up a poll on your business Facebook page and draw readers to "like" your page.
  31. Share poll or contest results. Don't leave readers hanging; do a follow-up post to announce the results.
  32. Create an award. Giving a "best of" honor is guaranteed to get attention. Readers will want to check out who won, and all the finalists will likely share the news in social media.
  33. Share your customer feedback. If you use customer comment cards or do customer surveys, turn some highlights into a post.
  34. Reveal industry secrets or expose lies. When you promise to tell people what others won't, it's sure to be a hit.
  35. Tell the story of your origins. Everybody loves to read about other people's dreams and challenges, so write about why and how you started your business.
  36. Share a highlight. What were the big milestones in your company's history? Tell about an important moment and how it changed your business.
  37. Keyword posts. Check your Google Analytics to see which keyword searches bring customers to your site. Then do posts on those topics.
  38. Read your competitors. If you're out of ideas, see what topics are drawing a crowd on your competitors' blogs and give your own take on those subjects. You can even link to your competitor's post. Readers will think that's cool.
  39. Display a sense of humor. Everyone loves business owners who can laugh at themselves when something goes wrong at the office. Consider giving a "how-to" post a funny spin.
  40. Show your passion. What aspect of your business gets you excited? What customer experience was especially gratifying? Tell those personal stories.
  41. Share your vision. If you're different from competitors because of your philosophy, talk about it.
  42. Informational, how-to. Is there more than one way to use your product or service? Describe one of the less common uses in a how-to post.
  43. Tips and tricks. Don't have time for a step-by-step how-to post? Give readers a few random suggestions for how to get more out of your product.
  44. Celebrity Q&A. An interview post can be quick and easy if you simply email questions to an expert of interest to your customers. If you have some dream interview subjects, go ahead and ask if they'll participate. You'll probably be surprised how many say yes.
  45. Be inspiring. Sometimes, customers would just like to feel good. Write about something you found inspiring in the course of your day or how you keep a positive work culture.
  46. Resource list. You could spotlight your vendors, companies you partner with, or a list of good books related to your business.
  47. How you got the idea for your product. This is an opportunity to credit team members and tell an interesting story about product development.
  48. A day in the life. Give customers an hour-by-hour account of a typical day at your company.
  49. Offer something special. Announce a party that gives your best customers a first look at a new product or create a giveaway just for blog subscribers.
  50. Round up the best of your blog. If you think some of your best stuff is buried in the archive, repost your 10 favorite posts from the past year.

8 Ways a Little Guy Can Compete Against a Big Guy - Vertical Response Article

If you run a small business, you know how tough it can be to compete with your larger competitors especially when they're undercutting prices like crazy to get people in the door. Not to mention that a lot of them have huge advertising budgets for newspapers, TV commercials and radio spots. So how can you compete?

You have to be tough like Rocky that's how! You have to be creative and you have to do some grass roots marketing.

Here are a few ideas you might be able to put to work for your business.

1. Give an extra discount just for getting an email address. Communicating via email marketing is far less costly than communicating in almost any other form of marketing and you need every penny you can save.

2. Give free parking. If you have a parking lot near you, find out if you can validate the parking fees for up to an hour. Making it as easy as possible for your customers to get to you and save could be paramount. They may just choose you for that reason alone over chaos at Walmart.

3. Give a $20 gift card for their next purchase. If your customers buy something over a certain amount give them more. A store here in the Bay Area was giving $20 gift cards for every $100 customers spent and they could only use them in the following month.

4. Serve snacks or coffee. You really can drive more business by giving your customers an excellent experience. I know of a car dealership that serves a full-on breakfast while you wait to have your car serviced. There's nothing worse than having to sit in a room waiting for an oil change, so they make it pleasant!

5. Have a kid-friendly shop or office. Keeping the kids busy while Mom or Dad does the shopping or the office visit could be the thing that gets them to your place. They've got a tough job as it is, if you can make it easier for them to come to you while giving the kids some fun, it just might get them to stop going to the big boys.

6. Buy your competitor's name as a Google keyword. If your larger competitor is spending big advertising dollars, you might be able to capitalize on people searching for their company name. Of course you can't make false claims in your ads and if it's a Fortune 500 player there's a chance Google won't let you, but if you type their company name into Google Search, and you see ads down the right-hand side, chances are you won't have a problem. One note on that, you can't use their company name IN your ad content.

7. Pick up the phone. When people are dealing with your larger competition and have to call them about something they usually expect a phone tree about an hour long and then another hour of wait time. You might have the luxury of picking up the phone when it rings or calling them back quickly if they leave a message. They might want to start dealing with that type of service rather than saving a few bucks to sit on hold.

8. Start Tweeting. It might sound silly to you but surely you've got customers and prospects that are following other businesses on Twitter, why not yours? VerticalResponse customer Due Maternity does a great job at this, and in no time they got 268 followers. It may not sound like much, but it's 268 people they can message at any given moment about their sales, content and site. The big guys are starting to do it, you may as well beat them to the punch!

Going the extra mile and being clever are the only ways to compete against a large company, but it's not impossible. A company like Due Maternity has a very successful website with many thousands of customers. They compete with a larger maternity brand with a website and 1000 stores but are still growing and successful. I know they use a lot of these techniques to help them keep growing!


Long live the Sneakernet: Computing's most resilient network by Larry Dignan

When Amazon Web Services latest-and arguably most valuable-service is a system that allows you to ship terabytes of data to the cloud via snail mail you just have to chuckle. Yes folks, for all the fancy talk of cloud computing, terabytes-not to mention petabytes-of data and technological advancement the Sneakernet is alive and kicking.

The Sneakernet, where someone puts data on a disk, flash drive etc.  and runs it to another computer, is arguably one of our most enduring networks. I still use it all the time. I'm sure I could network my home devices together, but the Sneakernet works just fine.

Multiply the Sneakernet on a grand scale and you understand why Amazon is launching a service called Import/Export. There's too much data to move to the cloud and not enough bandwidth to get it there quickly. Why take five days to move data-and hog up all your bandwidth-when you can toss it on a storage brick of some sort and just overnight it?

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels explains:

In some ways the computing world has changed dramatically; networks have become ubiquitous and the latency and bandwidth capabilities have improved immensely. Next to this growth in network capabilities we have been able to grow something else to even bigger proportions, namely our datasets. Gigabyte data sets are considered small, terabyte sets are common place, and we see several customers working with petabyte size datasets.

No matter how much we have improved our network throughput in the past 10 years, our datasets have grown faster, and this is likely to be a pattern that will only accelerate in the coming years. While network may improve another other of magnitude in throughput, it is certain that datasets will grow two or more orders of magnitude in the same period of time.

Simply put, if you wanted to move a terabyte data set to EC2 it will take you a while. On an enterprise scale, this data-moving problem is yet another hindrance to cloud computing adoption. Amazon gives the following time frame to shipping a terabyte dataset over the network:

But that doesn't capture the true costs. Microsoft Research notes that you still have to maintain that network. And there's labor and support.

Here's a look at the slightly dated statistics from a 2002 Microsoft Research paper:

Microsoft Research's Jim Gray concluded that Sneakernets are the answer to the above conundrum:

What is the best way to move a terabyte from place to place? The Next Generation Internet (NGI) promised gigabit per second bandwidth desktop-to-desktop by the year 2000. So, if you have the Next Generation Internet,  then this transfer is just 8 trillion bits, or about 8,000 seconds - a few hours wait. Unfortunately, most of us are still waiting for the Next Generation Internet - we measure bandwidth among our colleagues at between 1 megabits per second (mbps) and 100 mbps. So, it is takes us days or months to move a terabyte from place to place using the Last Generation Internet.

That passage was written in 2002. And guess what? We're still waiting. Simply put, the Sneakernet is the most efficient means of moving a terabyte of data around.

Given that fact, Amazon's Sneakernet, the Import/Export service, may become its most appreciated if not technologically advanced feature. Go figure. In a nutshell, Import/Export allows you to ship data on storage devices with a manifest that explains how and where to load the data and map it to Amazon's storage system.

Here's when a move to Import/Export makes sense:

Now there are costs. Amazon will charge you $80 per storage device handled and $2.49 per data loading hour. And then there's the usual storage pricing. But add it up and it's cheaper per terabyte than waiting a week for a dataset to move.

Will the Sneakernet ever go away? Nope. Gray sums it up:

Until we all have inexpensive end-to-end gigabit speed networks, terascale datasets will have to move over some form of sneaker net. We suspect that by the time the promised end-to-end gigabit (next generation Internet) arrives, we will be moving petabyte scale datasets and so will still need a Sneakernet solution.

Action System - Problem Solving

Shine A Light On Problems and they Go Away

What would it mean to your business to solve just one problem a month, and not have that problem resurface again, ever? What would it mean if you could retain intellect and “know-how” of key individuals when they leave the company? The Action System can do this and more, and best of all, the Action System is free!

The Action System is a tool that does just that. It allows a business to shine a light on problem in a large way, assign responsibility, track the solution/s, and records the process for future reference. And it’s amazing how many problems simply “go away” simply by shining a light on them.

Action System is a simple tool used for single-level company-wide problem solving. It enables network attached users to enter problems or Action Items into a database that provides wide visibility to the problem. An Action Manager can assign responsibility and “Solution ETA Date” for the Action Item, and the item can be tracked until it is resolved.

Action System not only serves as a valuable problem solving tool, but it also becomes the company “knowledge base” that captures the business intellect so that old problems do not resurface. An if they do, the solution can be easily found even if the original solution provider is not currently available.

Action System has three user tools in the main menu, Items Entry, Items View, and six filter lists, Active, Unassigned, Pending, InActive, ListAll, and Complete. The program uses a Web Browser and can be accessed from company IntraNet site.

The main screen consists of two windows, a menu window to the left and Activity screen to the right. Selection from the menu will display in the Activity screen. The menu screen will remain active at all times to allow rapid movement through the program.

Addition reporting is possible by using standard Microsoft or Open desktop tools. For further information, please contact Active-Technologies, LLC.

Addressing the State of the White House Technology by Chris Crum

Maintaining Balance Between Transparency and Security

Since President Obama was sworn in and has switched to a new interface, there has been an endless amount of chatter about the state of the White House's technology. Some discuss the shortcomings, while others defend it as just fine.

Tradition and Transition

A controversial Washington Post article discusses the state of the technology situation in the White House as the Bush Administration moved out and the Obama Administration moved in. The article takes the angle of the Obama crew being forced to step back into the \"dark ages\" and use \"old software\" and Microsoft instead of Mac, disconnected phone lines, etc. Obama's team were using Gmail addresses because their new white house addresses had yet to be set up. An Obama spokesman said it was like \"going from an Xbox to an Atari.\"

\"David Perhaps that's just how it is. \"The White House itself is an institution that transitions regardless of who the president is,\" says David Almacy, Internet Director under the Bush Administration. \"The White House is not starting from scratch. Processes are already in place.\"

\"Bureaucracy is nonpartisan,\" he says. \"Moving 3,000 people out and 3,000 people in is a Herculean task.\" That is worth considering when it comes to the phone lines, email addresses, etc. Although one might think they would have had plenty of time to get this worked out by the time the new President was ready to take office.

As far as the technology itself, a lot of people around the Internet are taking the stance of \"welcome to the real world\". According to a Fox News article, \"the White House has everything a modern corporate office would — Windows XP, BlackBerrys, Outlook e-mail, plenty of laptops and lots of flatscreen monitors and TVs.\" Owen Thomas at Valleywag had an interesting take:

Guess what? Outside the Manhattan media bubble and Silicon Valley's startup cube farms, this is how most Americans work. Want a Macintosh? Sorry, IT hasn't approved it. Oh, you need to use Facebook to interact with customers? Sorry, that site's blocked — and management suspects that \"social media\" is a buzzword which means \"getting paid to waste time chatting with friends.\" Want to use some new blogging service? Fill out this three-page questionnaire about the site's security practices, please.

This is not a story about digital pioneers getting cast back into the Stone Age; it's about a privileged elite learning how the rest of the country has to work. Those \"six-year-old versions of Microsoft software\"? That must mean Windows XP. If you haven't noticed, most people still prefer XP over Microsoft's clunky, buggy, annoying new Vista. Here's a suggestion for the Obamans: Stop whining about the tools taxpayers have paid for, and get to work learning how to cope with what your employer gives you, just like the rest of us.

But still, you have to think the people behind a Presidential campaign that was practically built on using technology and highlighting tech policies might have some kind of grasp on the reality of the situation. The real issue is where technology and security clash with each other, and speaking of Herculean tasks, how about staying transparent and completely secure at the same time?



The national security agency added special security software to Obama's blackberry so that he could continue to use it. \"This means Obama can continue emailing routine and personal messages that will become part of the public record,\" says Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm. \"However, some of the more 'fun' functions of a smartphone, such as IM and those requiring GPS functionality, won’t be available for his use. So far no data channels appear to be secure enough for Top Secret emails.\"

You've probably read about how the Obama administration cannot use Facebook, instant messenger clients, and outside email accounts. How will this kind of stuff affect the transparency that the Obama administration is trying to maintain?

Transparency and New Media

If you were expecting to be updated from the new staff via Twitter, you might want to read this story. A fake White House Twitter account has been posting presidential updates, but beware that it is not coming from the real source.

Everybody knows by now that YouTube videos are one way Obama intends to remain transparent. He and his staff frequently communicate with the people through them. Some questions have been raised about why YouTube is getting preferential treatment, however.


The Privacy Policy at depicts very strict rules about using persistent cookies on government sites, YouTube is apparently exempt from this because they want to be able to embed YouTube videos on the site. Some are wondering why they don't just use their own video service. \"The U.S. should be able to stream videos through its own service at this point without making YouTube its default online video service,\" says Frederic Lardinois at Read Write Web.

It's only been a few days since the inauguration though. There are certainly kinks to be worked out. Interestingly, the new administration has unblocked Google from crawling info on the White House site. Previously there were a lot of pages being blocked that were available to the public anyway.

Open Source and Changing Tradition

The new administration may not have been thrilled about the state of the White House's technology, and there may be certain aspects of it that just can't be sacrificed, but that doesn't mean that change isn't an option. Already Obama has shown an interest in open source. Sun Chairman Scott Mcnealy says that the President has asked him to author a white paper on potential benefits to the government of open source solutions.


\"The government ought to mandate open-source products based on open-source reference implementations to improve security, get higher-quality software, lower costs, higher reliability--all the benefits that come with open software,\" says McNealy as quoted by BBC News.

He also says that the CIO should have \"veto power, the right to eliminate any hardware, software or networking product that touches the federal network...He or she would have real power, real oversight and employ real consequences for folk that don't realign with the architecture. It's what every business does that the government doesn't.\"

From the sounds of it, change is definitely in the air, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has witnessed a single iota of what the President's campaign has been about. However, that doesn't mean that change doesn't come with restrictions, and compromises are going to have to be made. Transparency and new media efforts will not be able to work without the security needed to protect the country.


Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is method of making money online whereby a website publisher is rewarded for assisting other businesses by promoting their product, service or site.

Money is usually made by commission when someone follows your link on your website to another site where they then buy the product that you recommended or advertized. In addition, some sites offer commissions if your link on your website causes the web surfer to take action, like provide information, take a survey, or sign up for a newsletter.

Commissions can be a fixed amount or a percentage of the sale..

Sales are generally tracked using your unique embedded code or by implanted cookies.

Advertiser like affiliate marketing because they can sell product with minimal advertizing cost, since the affiliate does the advertizing for them. Affiliates like it because they can make money even whilst sleeping.

Don’t get me wrong – this is hard work. You might have to create banner ads. You might have to write articles, product reviews, product comparisons, collect testimonials, figure out a thousand uses for the product, and post these on many websites (with links back to the product you want to sell). You might put in 10 to 12 hour days promoting these products. But with some hard work and persistence, you can find that combination that works for you. Wouldn’t it be great to wake up the next morning and find that your efforts netted $1000 over night?

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing without a doubt is one of the best ways to make money online. Its fairly easy to get started and in most cases you dont even have to spend any money to get started. And almost anyone with a little dedication and hard work can make money as an affiliate marketer. If you are a beginners, affiliate marketing may seem complicated and though to master. That is why I have created this post. This 10 steps process will guide you through the process of getting started in affiliate marketing and making money as an affiliate marketer.

Pick a product to promote
Go to ClickBank or Commission Junction or any other affiliate marketing network and pick a product to promote. Pick a product that is hot and selling well. Although, that would mean you will have a lot of competition, at the same time it means it will be much easier for you to make sales as a beginner.

Get to know the product you want to promote
I personally think its best to buy the product you want to promote. Doing so, will give you access to the product which helps you learn all about it. And if you decide to promote the product, you will have a much better chance of convincing people to buy the product since you can outline the benefits of the product much better than anyone how hasn’t had access to the product.

Write a sales letter
Now that you have become familiar with the product, use what you have learned to write your sales letter. The easiest way to write a killer sales latter is to simply use bullet points and point out the problems people have in your specific niche and tell them how this product will solve their problem. It really is as simple as that.

Create a free internet radio show
Go to BlogTalkRadio and register for a free account. BlogTalkRadio is basically a tool which allows anyone to create an internet radio show. No, you are not doing it to become a radio host! You are doing this simply because such contents are indexed by Google within hours. Your radio show doesn’t have to be anything sophisticated. You can simply read out your sales latter. Make sure you use your main keywords through out the show. Don’t forget to ad your affiliate link at the end of your show, so your audience will know where to go.

Your recording will also be use as a free offer to attract potential buyers. Simply upload the mp3 of your radio show to your web host.

Create a one page site
Now, put up a quick one page site using WordPress or whatever blogging platforms you prefer. Create a short article (using your sales latter) and offer your MP3 to visitors as a free download. At the end of the article include your affiliate link where people can buy the product you are promoting. If the MP3 you created and are giving away to visitors for free is good and provide useful information, many of those visitors will be enticed to buy the product you are promoting since they knwo you provide quality stuff.

Promote your site
These days there are online forums related to just about any subject. Find a few good and trusted forums related to the product you are promoting. Place a link in your signature section that directs people to your blog. Make sure you let people know you are giving away a free mp3 download about the subject. Start participating in those forums. Be helpful and build a reputation for yourself as an authority in your niche.

Use social networking sites to promote
You can also use social networking sites to promote your site. Register with as many social networking sites as you can and place a link back to your blog in your profile. Ping and bookmark your profile URLs for a faster indexing.

Now, find a few quality and useful articles about becoming debt free and post their links on your social networking accounts. Do this a few times, then post a link pointing to your own blog. Repeat this process over and over again. This process will get people thinking about becoming debt free, so when you do send them to your blog, they are ready to download your free MP3. Which will get them even more ready to visit your affiliate link and buy the product you are promoting.

Promote your site through blog commenting
You want to promote your blog and build backlinks to it as much as you can. Another good way to build backlinks and get some traffic to your blog is through related blogs. Go find financial related blogs, especially blogs that talk about debt and becoming debt free. Visit as many as you can and leave genuine comments. Include your blogs URL in the URL box.

Build your list
At this points, you probably have made a few sales. Use some of that money to sign up for an autoresponder account. This step can be done depending either in the beginning of this process or after you have made a few sales. If you have the money for it, sign up for an autoresponder before you start giving away your free MP3 and in exchange for the free MP3 download, capture people’s names and emails addresses. This will help you build a list of people who you know are interested in the product you are promoting. So the next time you have a better product you want to promote, all you have to do is send them an email with a link to the product sales page.

Keep building backlinks and driving traffic to your site
From this point on, your job is to build backlinks and drive traffic to your sales page (blog). You can use paid methods like buying ad space, or using Google adwords and other advertising methods, or use free methods like blog commenting, submitting articles to article directories (with a link pointing back to your blog at the end of the article), social networking with people interested in your niche and so on.

This is the basics of making money as an affiliate marketer. Of course, reading this post and knowing it wont make you a dime. Doing the actual work is what will help you make money. Commit yourself, take action and you will succeed. This method can help you and any affiliate marketing beginner to make money online as an affiliate marketer.

Amazon Reminder You Do Not Own Your Kindle Books

Amazon.comOn a dark and stormy night, an employee of your local bookstore strolls into your home, starts tossing books you'd purchased over the last few years into a box, and — despite your protest — takes them all away without saying a word.

Thankfully that's not what happened to Linn Jordet Nygaard. Well, not exactly. The Norwegian woman found herself on the wrong side of bureaucracy, but the outcome was much the same (without as much mud on the carpet): Amazon turned off her Kindle account, blocking her from her own books. And they wouldn't tell her why.

"Two weeks ago my Kindle started showing stripes on the screen and I contacted Amazon support," Nygaard told NBC News. "Someone immediately found the Kindle in the system and told me they would replace it free of charge. They could only ship the replacement to UK because it was originally purchased there, and I told them I would find an address the next day. (I live in Norway, but have a friend who lives in London.)" 

Nygaard was pleased with Amazon's prompt service, she told us, even though this was her second Kindle to fall victim to "stripes" on the ePaper screen.

But when Nygaard attempted to log into her Amazon account the next day, her account was suspended — and with it access to her library of 43 books.

Those friendly phone-based customer support folks couldn't access Nygaard's account either, and she was passed on to "account specialists" who only communicated via email. That's when things took a Kafkaesque turn (as documented by her friend, Martin Bekkelund, on his blog). A man named Michael Murphy with Amazon UK's "Executive Customer Relations" told Nygaard her account had been determined to be "directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies." Which policies? He wouldn't say. What other account? Murphy wouldn't share that, either.

Instead, Murphy would only pass on this shrilly authoritarian boilerplate:

Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion.

Please know that any attempt to open a new account will meet with the same action.

Now just to spoil the story, I'll skip to the happy ending for Nygaard: After taking her story public, Amazon saw the error of their ways and restored her Kindle library. She's still waiting on her replacement Kindle, but in the meantime has access to her library through the Kindle iOS app on her iPad.

But Amazon doesn't get off the hook so easily. When we reached out to the company Monday, their PR representative would only send us a canned response they'd dropped into their customer forum: "We would like to clarify our policy on this topic. Account status should not affect any customer's ability to access their library." (Amazon loves copying-and-pasting, it seems.) Our follow up question — "Why wasn't [Nygaard] told why her account was cancelled?" — hasn't been answered yet.

And it probably won't be. Nygaard's little dust-up with Amazon isn't, in and of itself, a big deal. But it serves as a bitter reminder that we don't ever truly own the digital goods and software we buy online. Instead, we rent them, or hold them in a sort of long-term lease, the terms of which are brokered and policed exclusively by the leaseholder. 

As Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow put it in a blog post yesterday:  

This fine print will always have a clause that says you are a mere tenant farmer of your books, and not their owner, and your right to carry around your "purchases" (which are really conditional licenses, despite misleading buttons labeled with words like "Buy this with one click" — I suppose "Conditionally license this with one click" is deemed too cumbersome for a button) can be revoked without notice or explanation (or, notably, refund) at any time.

The core issue might actually be a simple matter of semantics: when we click a digital button that is labelled "Buy," we expect that we're actually buying something. But we're not buying anything, we're licensing it. Just last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the first-sale doctrine does not apply to software — or e-books. Or apps. Nor pretty much everything you "Buy" online that doesn't get shipped to your home in a cardboard box.

Those long End User License Agreements you have to read before you use a new piece of software? Those are are legally binding, because you've clicked a button labeled "Agree." But for some reason, online retailers can label their buttons "Buy" when they actually mean "Rent," and there's nothing we can do about it save filing a lawsuit.

You could call Nygaard's experience a tempest in a teapot, a matter of a few hundred dollars worth of goods that, after a little public outcry, were fixed without issue. But you'd still be pretty angry if and when it happens to you. (It is worth noting that despite Amazon's stated policy that customers can still access their previously purchased Kindle library even if their account is suspended, Nygaard couldn't download her books to a new device because her account was suspended. 

As she explained to us, "Before I started emailing Mr. Murphy, I could not log in to my account from Web or iPhone. And my Kindle screen was broken so the fact that the books were still there didn't help me much."

I was curious if there was any merit to my idea of attempting to hold retailers to these "Truth in Buttons" terms, so I asked Intellectual Property attorney Seth Greenstein, who wrote about about case law for reselling e-books a couple years back, if the notion held water. As Greenstein explained in an email to NBC News, it's not all completely settled:

All sales through Apple and other online retailers are subject to terms of use that set forth the conditions of sale. You may buy a track from the iTunes Store that can be used on a certain number of devices, or a copy of an e-book that comes with restrictions as to the ability to lend or the devices on which it is viewable — a “sale” with “conditions.” The “conditions” apply only to the person who entered into the agreement; they do not necessarily bind a third party.

In the patent context, the Supreme Court this term has granted review of a case to determine whether first sale privileges are defeated by a purchase “with conditions.” Typically this arises where the seller marks products “single use only.” The question is whether that is enforceable only under contract law, in which case it applies only to the purchaser; or, as a matter of patent law, against anybody. Why does this make a difference? Take a case I litigated in which Lexmark placed a “single use” type of restriction on its cartridge boxes attempting to prevent its aftermarket competitors from refurbishing and refilling cartridges and selling them for far less than the price of a new cartridge. If the restriction is upheld under patent law, Lexmark could claim these aftermarket companies infringe its patents. If not, the aftermarket competitors may be lawful. The courts found that the first sale doctrine (called “patent exhaustion”) trumpted the single use restriction. Now the Supreme Court will have the last word.

If the world's governments determine that customers don't have the same right of ownership over digital goods as we do over our material goods, the least they could do is force companies Amazon to be truthful about what is sold, and what is actually just rented. And it will probably take a lawsuit or legislative action to force Amazon to speak truthfully about the transactions, if only because it changes the perceived value in a customer's mind: $15 to rent a file that contains a book that can be taken away from you at any time, without explanation or recourse, starts to sound a little expensive.

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Are Printers Obsolete?

When I bought my first computer, I bought two printers at the same time: an Okidata 320 dot matrix printer for fast, everyday printing and the other was a Diablo daisy wheel (remember those?) for correspondence that needed to look nice. The daisy wheel printer was the outgrowth of that same technology that was used in electric typewriters. As with the IBM Selectric and its interchangeable “balls,” you had to switch out the wheel to change to a different font style or size. Today, I wonder if I even need a printer - or do I?

The idea of having a computer without a printer was unthinkable. What good would it be, if you couldn’t transfer what you’d produced on the (12 inch monochrome) screen to paper? It’s not as if most of the people for whom the information was intended had their own computers on which to view it, after all.

Since then, I’ve owned a good many printers - although the number of printers I’ve had isn’t nearly as high as the number of computers. A good printer would usually last through several computer upgrades, and multiple computers in the house could share a single printer. Printing technology has certainly advanced over the years, although perhaps not nearly as dramatically as computer technology in general. In fact, my Okidata and Diablo still work and are sitting in the attack.

My first color printer was an inkjet, and it was thrilling to be able to print out documents and pictures in color - almost as cool as getting our first color television set after growing up watching everything in black and white. But as much as I liked that inkjet, I still lusted after the expensive laser printers with output that resembled the print in a book or magazine. Unfortunately, the laser printers were costly, thousands of dollars, expensive to operate, and unreliable.

And of course, the price tag on the printer itself is only part of the story. One of the problems with printers is the cost of supplies. You have to feed it paper, of course, and that can get expensive. And you also have to provide it ink, toner , ribbon - whatever it uses to transfer the text or graphics onto the paper.

One of the more interesting, but least used printers that I had was a thermal printer. The idea of an “inkless” printer sounds great in theory, but the problem was that you had to use special paper for it, and that costs as much as the combination of ink and regular paper. In addition, the print on that early thermal paper didn’t last long; a couple of years later your document had faded away.

Today inkjets and laser printers are still the most popular types, and both can had for a fraction of what they cost back then. There are also solid ink nprinters and dye-sublimation printers for high quality color photo printing. Keeping your printer in supplies can still be a major pain, and few things are more frustrating than hunting through shelves full of hundreds of different printer cartridges at the office supply store, only to find that the model used by your printer isn’t among them.

One way in which printers have advanced is in printing speed. Early printers were excruciatingly slow, often producing little more than a character per second. When I got my first laser, that could turn out 8 pages per minute, I thought I’d really arrived. Now you can buy a printer for less than $50 that will do over 25 pages per minute. In 2005, IBM made a laser printer (the Infoprint 4100) capable of 330 pages per minute. There was a catch, though: the printer’s base price was half a million dollars. Ouch.

Printers have morphed into multi-function machines, and many of those sold today do much more than print. Both of our current printers are also copiers, scanners and fax machines. The footprint for these amazing little multi-taskers has gotten smaller at the same time the prices have fallen, so you can get a device that does a very good job of providing all these functions in a compact package that only takes up a couple of square feet on your desk.

For the past fifteen years, at least, all my printers have been HPs. There are other companies that make good printers, too, but I’ve always had very good luck with HP so I’ve stuck with them. When Vista was released, there were many complaints about printers that didn’t work with the new OS due to lack of drivers from the manufacturers, but my two HPs, a Deskjet and an OfficeJet, made the operating system transition without a hitch.

I’ve noticed, though, that as time goes by, our printers are used less and less. Whereas once upon a time, we went through a printer cartridge every two to four weeks, now we’ll go six months or more without needing a new one. We just don’t print things to paper nearly as much as we used to. Much of the correspondence that we once printed and mail is now sent as email. Articles, white papers, and book chapters are submitted in digital format over the Internet instead of being packed up and shipped off to the published via the postal service. Photos that were once printed for family members to enjoy can now be shared with them on the web. Even contracts are signed electronically and exchanged without ever being printed.

In fact, more and more people I know are telling me that they don’t even have printers anymore. The paperless office is still far from reality for us, but our business is definitely much less paper-centric than it was just a few years ago. I suspect that trend will continue in the future. But I wonder if the eventual demise of printed documents will have its down side, as well as the obvious cost and convenience advantages. There is, after all, something about the look and feel and smell of paper that isn’t quite duplicated on the monitor screen.

And I admit that for documents that are really important, I don’t quite trust them to digital files only. I still make printed copies that I keep in the safe, just in case all six backup files, stored on different computers in different locations, should somehow be destroyed all at the same time.

What about you? Do you still print things out to read them? Or do you only print out documents that are very important? Do you find yourself using your printer a lot less than you did in the past? Have you gotten rid of your printer altogether and gone completely paperless? Will printers someday be obsolete, perhaps only owned by shops where you can take your docs on a memory card or send them over the Internet to be printed? Do you look forward to that day, or will you continue to keep a printer at home as long as you can find the supplies for it? Is it ecologically irresponsible to print what could be kept in purely digital format?

Are Seniors At A Technology Disadvantage



Photo © danr13 - Fotolia

(Mark Huffman @ ConsumerAffairs) If you need to interact with companies, organizations and even government, increasingly you are encouraged – and in some cases required – to do it online.

For the last two decades the efficiency of the Internet has streamlined bureaucracies and increased productivity while reducing costs. The assumption now is that everyone should do everything online.

Phone books and catalogs have been replaced with online directories. Signing up for coverage in the Healthcare Marketplace requires going to a website.

Who needs a computer?

It's more convenient for most people but completely baffling for others – primarily older adults. In 2011 AARP  reported62% of people age 75 and older didn't even own a computer.

AARP chalks that up to changes in perception and motor control as people age, making it hard to see the screen or manipulate a mouse. Perhaps that's part of it, but researchers at Ohio's Bowling Green State University believe there could be something more.

Nearly 900 test subjects enrolled in their study, ranging in age from 19 to 99. The researchers wanted to get a handle on how well the subjects used technology – in particular, a tablet.

As you might expect, the results were wide-ranging.

“In addition to the traditional technologically savvy millennial who is constantly connected to his or her device, we also had the lower range of technology interaction, with almost 6% of the sample reporting that they do not understand what a tablet is, even after three-quarters page long description with photos,” the authors wrote.


There is a Catch-22 here. As people age they may need the extra assistance that technology could provide. But the authors found the relationship between age and attitudes towards technology is predominantly negative, and that as the age of individuals’ increases, their negative attitudes towards technology increase.

Does it have to be this way? The researchers don't think so. They think ageism might play a role here, with the stereotype of older people unable to grasp technology becoming a self-fulfilling reality.

Technology engineers, they say, might also design devices with more senior-friendly features.

“Even though technologies related to tablet use have evolved, the resources that would help individuals who are less technologically literate to use tablets (or any new technology) are greatly lacking,” they write.


Training might also make a difference, if done the right way. Then, the authors conclude, the older population might begin using more of the resources that could benefit them, whether it's booking a hotel reservation or ordering a birthday gift for a grandchild.

But aging expert Neil Charness of Florida State University says that might be a hard sell for some technology-averse seniors.

"If it takes you twice as long to learn something, why would you invest that time when you could be drawing on your crystallized intelligence — your already acquired knowledge — and doing things you enjoy doing?" he told AARP.

Are We ready for the AI revolution

 (@ ZDNet) "Government leadership in the fields of robotics and AI has been lacking," says acting chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Dr Tania Mathias MP.

It's by establishing a Commission on Artificial intelligence that the government should take charge of establishing principles for governance, development, and application of AI, the committee says. It noted that the commission should be closely coordinated with the Council of Data Ethics, which is being setup following a previous report by MPs.

Membership of the AI commission shouldn't only be made up of experts in that field, rather the report states that it should include those with expertise in law, social science, and philosophy as well as computer scientists, natural scientists, and engineers. It's also recommended that membership should be drawn from industry, NGOs, and the public in order to establish a programme of wide ranging public dialogue.

The committee -- which took evidence from a range of experts -- also points out that the government must put a much greater focus on adjusting education and training systems in order to allow people to adapt and thrive as new forms of technology arise, and criticises the government for not doing enough in this area.

"It is disappointing that the government still has not published its digital strategy nor set out its plans for equipping the future workforce with the digital skills it needs to flourish," said the report.

Artificial intelligence has the potential to fundamentally alter how we live and work but government lacks any sort of coherent strategy for responding to the social and ethical dilemmas posed by the rise of intelligent machines.

It's for that reason a 'Commission on Artificial Intelligence' should be established at the Alan Turing Institute to examine the social, ethical, and legal implications of the rapid recent developments in AI and potential developments in future, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has declared.

The recommendation comes following an investigation into how the workplace and wider society will be affected by the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence. The findings are set out in the a 46-page report, which states that the government needs to come up with an AI strategy because currently it's not taking any responsibility.

While a group of companies including Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft, have come together in order to research AI and provide guidelines on the technology, the committee warns that the government can't just sit back and wait for them to do all the work, but rather needs to proactively take a role.

"While it is encouraging that the [private] sector is thinking about the risks and benefits of AI, this does not absolve the government of its responsibilities," said Mathias.

The report into artificial intelligence and robots has been welcomed by techUK, which also urges government to provide more leadership in fields relating to AI and digital skills for the future.

"We have a great opportunity here in the UK to help to define the future, especially give our global leadership in the development of AI," says Sue Daley, head of big data and analytics at techUK. "The committee is right to call for greater government leadership in addressing the digital skills gap. This is one of the most urgent policy challenges we face today."

Are You Using Google Places

Google Places has been around for a long time – but have you taken a few minutes to discover what it can do for your business? Many business owners overlook the benefits of using this free business listing tool from Google. So, let’s take a closer look at exactly why you should be using Google Places.

google places 300x160 The Benefits of Using Google Places

What Is Google Places?

Google Places is Google’s answer to listing your business for exposure on the internet. It’s a huge network of businesses that are referenced in their live data base, and it comes complete with a map pointer, so that people can find directions to your business. But there’s more to adding your listing here than meets the eye.

#1: Instant Page 1 Search Results

If you take some time to properly optimize your Google Places listing, you’ll find yourself ranking on page 1 with ease. When a customer searches your local keyword, Google will recommend your business to them. It’s an efficient way to get exposure online with very little effort. Think of it as the super-yellow pages.

#2: Exposure on Mobile Devices

Clients that search for your keywords on mobile devices will be directed to your local business. And all because you took the time to pop in an optimized Google Places listing. Google Maps and Street View will do the rest!

#3: Traffic To Your Website

You can publish your URL in your Google Places listing. This means that people will see you on page 1, and click through to your website. That’s potentially thousands of people visiting your business website because you’re on Places.

#4: Citations and Reviews

Clients can leave feedback on your business, on Google Places – the more you get, the higher your business will rank. Don’t forget to ask your clients to leave their reviews, and you’ll enjoy consistent business from this free advertising spot.

#5: Add Photos For Additional Exposure

Because your Google Places listing is more like a mini business profile online, you can upload photos there, which advertise your company. Listings that contain vibrant photos get more clicks, and more business!

#6: Advertising Boost

When you use Google’s PPC ads, you’ll be able to link it with your Google Places account. That way when your advert shows up in the sponsored section on Google, it will also contain a link to a map, showing where your business is located. This helps your ad to stand out, which means more clicks.

#7: The Most Powerful Directory in The World

It should go without saying that Google Places is the most powerful business directory in the world, but it’s also the most advanced. Anyone who uses Google to search for a local business could find yours. And the service is free.

If you’re not on Google Places yet – where have you been? Spend some time building up the perfect profile, add images, SEO and make sure that there’s an accurate location on the map. It’s for everyone, and it’s a must-have service for small businesses!

Are your digital devices driving up your electric bill

By Mark Huffman

Mark Huffman has been a consumer news reporter for ConsumerAffairs since 2004. He covers real estate, gas prices and the economy and has reported extensively on negative-option sales. He was previously an Associated Press reporter and editor in Washington, D.C., a correspondent for Westwoood One Radio Networks and Marketwatch.  Read Full Bio→

Email Mark Huffman  Phone: 866-773-0221

PhotoIf you've checked your monthly electricity bill and been surprised at how much it is, you may have more to blame than an overly cold winter. Researchers at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) analyzed electric bills for California and other U.S. households and concluded that digital devices are driving bills higher.

Look around your home. How many things are plugged into a wall outlet, sucking up kilowatts? If you find you must use power strips at many outlets to accommodate all your devices, you can begin to appreciate the demand.

It's not just computers and big screen TVs, but monitors, notebooks, game consoles, routers and other devices that seem to be proliferating. All need electricity to do their jobs. But is it over-the-top demand?

Energy guzzlers

“Digital devices are energy guzzlers sapping consumer pocketbooks,” said Mark Cooper, CFA’s Director of Research and author of the report. “Improving the energy efficiency of household digital devices by a third or more would save consumers a lot of money because the reduction in electricity bills would be much larger than the increase in the upfront cost of putting more new more energy efficient technologies in the devices.”

There's already a program in place to encourage that. Since 1992 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has administered the Energy Star program, setting efficiency standards and sponsoring research. While many manufacturers have embraced Energy Star, its standards are voluntary.

Energy Star has made refrigerators, stoves and other large appliances more efficient than they might otherwise be, but these appliances aren't proliferating in the average home at the rapid rate digital devices are, and the latter's toll is adding up.

500% increase

The CFA researchers found that between 2000 and 2013, digital devices increased their killowatt consumption by 500% in the U.S. They estimate the average U.S. household now consumes 800 killowatt hours (kWh) per year.

Putting that in perspective, CFA says digital devices consume half as much electricity as your air conditioner and two-thirds of what your refrigerator uses. Not surprisingly, the researchers found that electricity use by digital devices is highest in California, where computer and Internet usage is highest.


Manufacturers disagree

The consumer electronics industry takes issue with the suggestion that their products are running up Americans' electric bills. Earlier this month Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro complained of “conflicting and costly” energy efficiency requirements adopted by the U.S., Canada and Mexico, saying they are what are really costing consumers.

“Specifically, the mishmash of Canadian, Mexican and U.S. energy efficiency policies is confusing and costly for businesses and could force consumers to pay higher prices,” Shapiro said in a statement.

As for higher electricity bills for consumers, electricity rates have jumped in recent months, due in part to a spike in natural gas prices. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), average U.S. electric bills have been in decline since 2010. But the EIA says the ratio of annual peak-hour electric demand to average hourly demand has been rising over the last 20 years, with the increase especially noticeable in New England.

For its part, CFA maintains that substantial, cost-effective improvements in the energy efficiency of consumer digital devices can be achieved through strong performance standards. And considering many of these devices didn't exist 20 years ago, it's reasonable to assume that the average home will have even more yet-to-be-invented digital devices in the years to come.

Artificially intelligent concept glossary of the ideas

Sure, some people worry about machines putting an end to humanity as we know it, but that may be no more likely than a Mayan-predicted apocalypse. Artificial intelligence, though, may actually bring us lots of things we'll like: self-driving cars, caregivers for the sick, personal assistants that know exactly what you need, when you need it.

Yes, there is math and science, and a lot of it, behind the current boom in AI research, products and services. But you don't have to have a Ph.D. to get a handle on the basic ideas.

Here's a quick rundown of some notions you should know.

agent Software that reacts to things happening around it without the direct instruction of a user. A step beyond conventional software programs because they're always on and work by themselves, agents generally perform a single, specialized task, such as assembling news feeds or ordering email in terms of importance.

algorithm A formula or step-by-step process for a specific task. Think of it as a mathematical recipe or flow chart ("If x = 1, then...")

artificial intelligence The branch of computer science addressing simulated intelligence in machines. John McCarthy, the man who coined the term six decades ago, defined it as "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs."

deep learning The area of machine learning (see below) designed to recognize relationships in data. It tries to do in software what we do with our brains.

machine learning The aspect of AI that allows computers to learn tasks or to recognize new patterns on their own, without being explicitly programmed to do so. That is, it's a form of adaptation and an essential ingredient in cooking up true intelligence.

natural language processing The ability of a computer to understand and use human speech as it is spoken. Natural language processing is a key element of AI that's built off machine learning. If realized, it could even eliminate the need for programming languages.

neural network A form of information processing that uses multiple nodes -- anything connected to a network -- to emulate the biology of the brain. Neural networks use inputs from the nodes to tackle problems from multiple angles and make inferences from observations, rather than following a set of instructions. The technology is used in tasks such as handwriting recognition, in which common symbols aren't all rendered alike.

robot Software that simulates a human activity, such as a comparison-shopping program. Often shortened to "bot." The robots you may be thinking of -- clanky, wheezy hardware that walks like a dog, or the bright, shiny C-3PO -- involve a lot of mechanical capabilities that are separate from artificial intelligence.

strong AI What we'll have when artificial intelligence fully rivals, or even exceeds, our own. We're still a long ways off.

Turing test A challenge proposed by English computer scientist Alan Turing in 1950 for evaluating a computer's ability to demonstrate intelligent behavior. To pass the Turing test, a computer's natural language responses would be indistinguishable from a human being's responses. But the Turing test's very prescribed and narrow circumstances are a far cry from the more multifaceted, commonsense interaction that AI researchers are looking for.

weak AI What we have now. Limited, single-function software like Google's AlphaGo program or Facebook image recognition tech.

At $430 a gallon, Is Your Printer Cheating You Out Of Ink???

Jeff Bertolucci, PC World, ran printers until they said it was time to change the cartridge--and found that some left more than 40 percent of their ink unused.

You’ve probably had this experience: Your printer tells you it’s time to change the cartridge, but you dismiss the message and keep printing. Days or weeks later, you’re still using the same cartridge and thinking to yourself that rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated. Or perhaps your printer simply shuts down when it decides you’ve gone deep enough into its ink well, refusing to operate until you replace the cartridge, though you suspect there’s plenty of ink left

PC World decided to do some real lab testing on this issue; and the results confirm what you may have suspected: Many manufacturer-branded (OEM) and third-party (aftermarket) vendor cartridges leave a startling amount of ink unused when they read empty. In fact, some inkjet printers force users to replace black ink cartridges when the cartridge is nearly half full, PC World has found. Check out our video that accompanies this story.


We tested using multifunction printers from four major manufacturers: Canon, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, and Kodak. (For the top-rated models, see our chart of top-rated multifunction printers.) PC World Test Center results show that models from Canon, Epson, and Kodak reported ink cartridges as being empty when in some cases the tanks had 40 percent of their black ink remaining

The quantity of unused ink ranged from about 8 percent in an Epson-brand cartridge to a whopping 45 percent in an aftermarket cartridge for a Canon printer. After posting low-ink warnings, those printers wouldn’t let us resume printing until we inserted a new cartridge

Our test printers typically left more unused ink--in some cases significantly more--when using third-party or aftermarket print cartridges than when using the printer manufacturer’s own cartridges

When using ink their own manufacturer’s cartridges, the printers displayed several low-ink warning messages before finally shutting down due to low ink. Our HP printer, the Photosmart C5280, was the only one that continued to print even after displaying several low-ink messages, and those messages appeared only when we used an HP print cartridge. When we paired the C5280 with an aftermarket cartridge from LD Products, the printer provided no low-ink warning at all

It’s important to note that our results show the performance of a clutch of single printers, each paired with just one cartridge. Since OEMs and their aftermarket competitors sell dozens of ink cartridges for a wide variety of printer models, you should consider our results as a kind of snapshot of the way each particular unit deals with Remaining ink

Why So Much Leftover Ink?

There are valid reasons for not draining an ink cartridge completely, printing experts say. "Many inks, if they run dry, can cause significant damage to the printer," says Brian Hilton, a senior staff engineer at the Rochester Institute of Technology who holds 29 inkjet patents. "You always want to leave a buffer in the tank so that the printer never runs dry. There should always be a factor of safety included.\"

Other observers point out that the quantity of leftover ink is often only a few milliliters. "Printers have generally become more efficient over the years," says Andy Lippman, a printing analyst with Lyra Research. "In the past, you might have seen 40 milliliters of ink in the black cartridge. Today you’re going to get the same amount of pages out of 7 or 8 milliliters."

Other people, however--both journalists and independent researchers--have reported very different experiences with ink cartridges. Judging from these findings, printer owners are probably throwing away a lot of usable ink. And that’s a problem, when you consider how expensive the precious fluid is. An average black-ink cartridge contains 8 milliliters of ink and costs about $10 which translates into a cost of $1.25 per milliliter (or more horrifyingly, $1250 per Liter).

Liquid Gold?

If you bought a gallon of the stuff over the life of your printer, you’d have paid about $4731 for a liquid that one aftermarket vendor told us was “cheap" to make. For some perspective, gasoline costs about $3 per gallon (at the moment), while a gallon of Beluga caviar (imagined as a liquid) costs about $18,000--surprisingly, only about four times as expensive as good old printer ink.

"I personally think that consumers are getting ripped off," says Steve Pociask, president of the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit educational and research institute in Washington, D.C. Pociask recently coauthored a 50-page study on the ink jet printer and cartridge market. "In some cases, we found that [the price of] the printer could be 1/8 of the total cost of printing," says Pociask. "Over the life of the printer--and by that I mean three years--you can easily spend $800 for the printer and ink."

How Tested

We researched both online and brick-and-mortar tech outlets to find printers that are being used now by high numbers of consumers. We didn’t test color inks because that would have introduced too many variables that might skew the results. For instance, some printers use separate cartridges for each ink, while others use single, tricolor cartridges. A standardized test might not drain the colors evenly, which might give one printer an unfair advantage. <i>Jeff Bertolucci, PC World

We ran printers until they said it was time to change the cartridge--and found that some left more than 40 percent of their ink unused.

You’ve probably had this experience: Your printer tells you it’s time to change the cartridge, but you dismiss the message and keep printing. Days or weeks later, you’re still using the same cartridge and thinking to yourself that rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated.

AutoCAD 2014 vs AutoCAD 2013 and previous versions

AutoCAD 2014 connects and streamlines your design workflow like never before. New design-feed social collaboration tools drive project stakeholder involvement. Dozens of time-saving enhancements speed your everyday workflow. And with live maps and powerful new reality-capture capabilities, AutoCAD connects your design ideas to the world around you. See how it compares to previous AutoCAD versions.

  AutoCAD 2014 AutoCAD 2013 AutoCAD 2012 AutoCAD 2011
User interaction
Multi-functional grips
Hide and isolate objects
Create and select similar objects
Delete duplicate objects  
Content explorer  
Associative arrays  
Clickable command line options    
Property edit preview    
Viewport change preview    
Intelligent command line      
File tabs      
Solid, surface, and mesh modeling
Autodesk materials library
Editable UCS icon  
In-canvas viewport controls  
Surface curve extraction    
Context-sensitive press-pull    
Import sketchup files (SKP)      
Autodesk ReCap point cloud tool      
Geometry measurement tools
Parametric constraints
Object and layer transparency
Base and projected views  
Blend curves  
Copy array  
Section and detail views    
Strike-thru text    
Text align      
DGN 8 import/export/underlay
PDF publish/underlay
FBX import/export
DWG convert  
IGES, CATIA, Rhino, pro/engineer, and step import  
Inventor file import    
Autodesk 360 connectivity    
Design feed      
Share on Facebook      
Geolocation coordinate system and live maps      
Action recorder
CUIx file format
Online license transfer
Migration reset  
Multiple plot file search paths  
Customization and support file sync    
Exchange app manager      
Featured apps ribbon tab      
Secure load      
  Free trial      
Buy online      

AutoCad System requirements

AutoCad 14 is the last version that supports Windows XP

This document provides the system requirements for Autodesk® AutoCAD® Products.


AutoCAD 2014 System Requirements

Note: AutoCAD 2014 is the final version of AutoCAD software that will be supported on the Microsoft® Windows® XP operating system.

For 32-bit AutoCAD 2014

  • Windows® 8 Standard, Enterprise, or Professional edition, Windows® 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium edition (compare Windows versions), or Windows XP® Professional or Home edition (SP3 or later) operating system
  • For Windows 8 and Windows 7: Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon™ dual-core processor, 3.0 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
  • For Windows XP: Pentium 4 or Athlon dual-core processor, 1.6 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 6 GB free disk space for installation
  • 1,024 x 768 display resolution with true color (1,600 x 1,050 recommended)
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7 or later web browser
  • Install from download or DVD

For 64-bit AutoCAD 2014

  • Windows 8 Standard, Enterprise, or Professional edition, Windows 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium edition (compare Windows versions), or Windows XP Professional (SP2 or later)
  • Athlon 64 with SSE2 technology, AMD Opteron™ processor with SSE2 technology, Intel® Xeon® processor with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology, or Pentium 4 with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology
  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 6 GB free space for installation
  • 1,024 x 768 display resolution with true color (1,600 x 1,050 recommended)
  • Internet Explorer 7 or later
  • Install from download or DVD

Additional requirements for large datasets, point clouds, and 3D modeling (all configurations)

  • Pentium 4 or Athlon processor, 3 GHz or greater, or Intel or AMD dual-core processor, 2 GHz or greater
  • 4 GB RAM or more
  • 6 GB hard disk space available in addition to free space required for installation
  • 1,280 x 1,024 true color video display adapter 128 MB or greater, Pixel Shader 3.0 or greater, Microsoft® Direct3D®-capable workstation-class graphics card



  • Citrix® XenApp™ 6.5 FP1
  • Citrix® XenDesktop™ 5.6


AutoCAD 2013 System Requirements

System Requirements for 32-bit

  • Windows® 8 Standard, Enterprise, or Professional edition (requires installation of AutoCAD 2013 Service Pack 2); Microsoft® Windows® 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium (compare Windows 7 versions); or Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional or Home edition (SP3 or later)
  • For Windows 7: Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon™ dual-core processor, 3.0 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
  • For Windows XP: Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon dual-core processor, 1.6 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 6 GB free disk space for installation
  • 1,024 x 768 display resolution with true color (1,600 x 1,050 with true color recommended)
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7.0 or later web browser
  • Install from download or DVD

System Requirements for 64-bit

  • Windows® 8 Standard, Enterprise, or Professional edition (requires installation of AutoCAD 2013 Service Pack 2); Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium (compare Windows 7 versions); or Microsoft Windows XP Professional (SP2 or later)
  • AMD Athlon 64 with SSE2 technology, AMD Opteron® processor with SSE2 technology, Intel® Xeon® processor with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology, or Intel Pentium 4 with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology
  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 6 GB free space for installation
  • 1,024 x 768 display resolution with true color (1,600 x 1,050 with true color recommended)
  • Internet Explorer 7.0 or later
  • Install from download or DVD

Additional Requirements for 3D Modeling (All Configurations)

  • Pentium 4 or Athlon processor, 3 GHz or greater or Intel or AMD dual-core processor, 2 GHz or greater
  • 4 GB RAM or more
  • 6 GB hard disk space available in addition to free space required for installation
  • 1,280 x 1,024 true color video display adapter 128 MB or greater, Pixel Shader 3.0 or greater, Microsoft® Direct3D®-capable workstation-class graphics card




AutoCAD 2012 System Requirements

System Requirements for 32-bit

  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium ( compare Windows 7 versions); Microsoft® Windows Vista® Enterprise, Business, Ultimate, or Home Premium (SP2 or later) ( compare Windows Vista versions); or Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional or Home edition (SP3 or later)
  • For Windows Vista or Windows 7: Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® dual-core processor, 3.0 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology; for Windows XP: Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon dual-core processor, 1.6 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 2 GB free disk space for installation
  • 1,024 x 768 display resolution with true color
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7.0 or later
  • Install from download or DVD

System Requirements for 64-bit

  • Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium ( compare Windows 7 versions); Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise, Business, Ultimate, or Home Premium (SP2 or later) ( compare Windows Vista versions); or Microsoft Windows XP Professional (SP2 or later)
  • AMD Athlon 64 with SSE2 technology, AMD Opteron® processor with SSE2 technology, Intel® Xeon® processor with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology, or Intel Pentium 4 with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 2 GB free space for installation
  • 1,024 x 768 display resolution with true color
  • Internet Explorer 7.0 or later
  • Install from download or DVD

Additional Requirements for 3D Modeling (All Configurations)

  • Intel Pentium 4 processor or AMD Athlon, 3 GHz or greater; or Intel or AMD dual-core processor, 2 GHz or greater
  • 2 GB RAM or more
  • 2 GB hard disk space available in addition to free space required for installation
  • 1,280 x 1,024 true color video display adapter 128 MB or greater, Pixel Shader 3.0 or greater, Microsoft® Direct3D®-capable workstation-class graphics card


AutoCAD 2011 System Requirements


System Requirements for 32-bit

  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium (compare Windows 7 versions); Microsoft® Windows Vista® Enterprise, Business, Ultimate, or Home Premium (SP1 or later) (compare Windows Vista versions); or Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional or Home edition (SP2 or later)
  • For Windows Vista or Windows 7: Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® dual-core processor, 3.0 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology; for Windows XP: Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon dual-core processor, 1.6 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 1.8 GB free disk space for installation
  • 1,280 x 1,024 true color video display adapter 128 MB or greater, Microsoft® Direct3D®-capable workstation-class graphics card
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7.0 or later 
  • Install from download or DVD

System Requirements for 64-bit

  • Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium (compare Windows 7 versions); Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise, Business, or Ultimate (SP1 or later) (compare Windows Vista versions); or Microsoft Windows XP Professional (SP2 or later)
  • AMD Athlon 64 with SSE2 technology, AMD Opteron® processor with SSE2 technology, Intel® Xeon® processor with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology, or Intel Pentium 4 with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 2 GB free space for installation
  • 1,280 x 1,024 true color video display adapter 128 MB or greater, Microsoft® Direct3D®-capable workstation-class graphics card
  • Internet Explorer 7.0 or later 
  • Install from download or DVD

Additional Requirements for 3D Modeling (All Configurations)

  • Intel Pentium 4 processor or AMD Athlon, 3 GHz or greater; or Intel or AMD dual-core processor, 2 GHz or greater
  • 2 GB RAM or more
  • 2 GB hard disk space available in addition to free space required for installation
  • 1,280 x 1,024 true color video display adapter 128 MB or greater, Pixel Shader 3.0 or greater, Microsoft® Direct3D®-capable workstation-class graphics card


AutoCAD 2010 System Requirements

System Requirements For 32 bit

  • Operating system: Windows 7 Ultimate, Professional, Home Premium;Windows Vista (SP1); Windows XP (SP2 or later)
  • Browser: Windows Internet Explorer 7.0 or later
  • CPU: Windows Vista – Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon Dual Core, 3.0 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology; Windows XP – Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon Dual Core, 1.6 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
  • Memory: Windows Vista – 2 GB RAM, Windows XP – 2 GB RAM
  • Display resolution: 1024 x 768 display with True Color
  • Hard Disk: 1 GB free disk space for installation
  • Pointing Device: MS-Mouse compliant

3D Modeling additional requirements

  • Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon, 3.0 GHz or greater; Intel or AMD Dual Core, 2.0 GHz or greater
  • 2 GB RAM or greater
  • 2 GB free disk space available not including installation
  • 1280 x 1024 32-bit color video display adapter (True Color) 128 MB or greater, Direct3D-capable workstation class graphics card

System Requirements For 64 bit

  • Operating system: Windows 7 Ultimate, Professional, Home Premium; Windows Vista(SP1); Windows XP Professional x64 Edition (SP2 or later)
  • Browser: Windows Internet Explorer 7.0 or later
  • CPU type: AMD Athlon 64 or Opteron with SSE2 technology; Intel Pentium 4 or Xeon with Intel EM64T support & SSE2 technology
  • Memory: Windows Vista – 2 GB RAM, Windows XP – 2 GB RAM
  • Display resolution: 1024 x 768 with True Color
  • Hard Disk: 1.5 GB free disk space for installation
  • Pointing Device: MS-Mouse compliant
  • Media (CD ROM vs. DVD)

3D Modeling additional requirements

  • Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon, 3.0 GHz or greater; Intel or AMD Dual Core, 2.0 GHz or greater
  • 2 GB RAM or greater
  • 2 GB free disk space available not including installation
  • 1280 x 1024 32-bit color video display adapter (True Color) 128 MB or greater, Direct3D -capable workstation class graphics card


AutoCAD 2009 System Requirements

System Requirements For 32 bit

Operating system: Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows XP Professional, Service Pack 2, Windows XP Home, Service Pack 2
Browser: Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1 or later
You cannot install AutoCAD if Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 with Service Pack 1 (or later) is not installed on the installation workstation. You can download Internet Explorer from the Microsoft website:
CPU: Intel® Pentium® 4 processor or AMD® Athlon, 2.2 GHz or greater or Intel or AMD Dual Core processor, 1.6 GHz or greater
Memory: 1 GB (Windows XP SP2), 2 GB or greater (Windows Vista)
Display resolution: Graphics card 1280 x 1024 32-bit color video display adapter (True Color) 128 MB or greater, OpenGL®, or Direct3D® capable workstation class graphics card.
For Windows Vista, a Direct3D capable workstation class graphics card with 128 MB or greater is required 1024 x 768 VGA with True Color (minimum)
Hard Disk: 750 MB for installation
Download (ESD) and installation from DVD or CD-ROM

System Requirements For 64 bit

Operating system: Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows XP Professional
Browser: Internet Explorer 7.0 or later
CPU: AMD 64 or Intel EM64T
Memory: 2 GB
Display resolution: Graphics card 1280 x 1024 32-bit color video display adapter (True Color) 128 MB or greater, OpenGL®, or Direct3D® capable workstation class graphics card.
For Windows Vista, a Direct3D capable workstation class graphics card with 128 MB or greater is required 1024 x 768 VGA with True Color (minimum)
Hard disk: 750 MB for installation (Windows XP SP2), 2 GB available not including installation (Windows Vista)
Pointing device: Mouse, trackball, or other device.  Any speed (for installation only) 
DVD/CD-ROM: Download or DVD

Additional recommendations for 3D use

Windows Vista Enterprise
Windows Vista Business
Windows Vista Ultimate
Windows Vista Home Premium
Windows XP Professional, Service Pack 2
Windows XP Home, Service Pack 2

Windows Vista Enterprise
Windows Vista Business
Windows Vista Ultimate
Windows Vista Home Premium
Windows XP Professional

Processor: Intel® Pentium® 4 processor or AMD® Athlon, 2.2 GHz or greater
or Intel or AMD Dual Core processor, 1.6 GHz or greater
RAM: 2 GB (or greater)
Graphics card: 1280 x 1024 32-bit color video display adapter (True Color) 128 MB or greater, OpenGL®, or Direct3D® capable workstation class graphics card.
- For Windows Vista, a Direct3D capable workstation class graphics card with 128 MB or greater is required1024 x 768 VGA with True Color (minimum)
- For graphic cards that support Hardware Acceleration, DirectX 9.0c, or later, must be installed.
- Installing from the ACAD.msi file does not install DirectX 9.0c, or later. Manual installation of DirectX is required, in this circumstance, for Hardware Acceleration to be configured.

For more information about tested and certified graphics cards, visit  



AutoCAD 2008 System Requirements

32-bit AutoCAD

Intel® Pentium® 4 processor, 2.2 GHz Recommended
Microsoft® Windows Vista™, Windows® XP Home and Professional (SP2), Windows® 2000 (SP4)
512 MB RAM
750 MB free disk space for installation
1024x768 VGA with True Color
Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 6.0 (SP1 or higher)
Available on CD (Worldwide) and DVD (select countries and languages)

Additional System Requirements for 64-bit AutoCAD

Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Vista 64-bit
AMD64 or Intel EM64T processor
1GB RAM, 2GB for Windows Vista 64-bit
750 MB free disk space for installation
AutoCAD 64-bit cannot be installed on a 32-bit Windows Operating System.

The System requirements for Windows Vista or 3D modeling (32 and 64-bit AutoCAD)

Intel® 3.0 GHz or greater
2 GB RAM or greater
2 GB free hard disk available not including installation
1280 x 1024 32-bit color video display adapter (True Color) 128 MB or greater, OpenGL®, or Direct3D® capable workstation class graphics card. 
For Windows Vista, a Direct3D capable workstation class graphics card with 128 MB or greater is required.



AutoCAD 2007 System Requirements


  • Intel Pentium IV, or compatible
  • Microsoft Windows XP (Professional, Home Edition, or Tablet PC Edition), Windows 2000 Professional SP4
  • 512 MB RAM (minimum)
  • 750 MB free disk space
  • 1024x768 VGA with true colour (minimum)
  • Mouse or other pointing device
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 SP1


AutoCAD 2006 System Requirements


  • Intel Pentium III or later with 800Mhz Processor
  • Microsoft Windows XP (Professional, Home Edition, or Tablet PC Edition), Windows 2000
  • 512 MB RAM (minimum)
  • 500 MB free disk space
  • 1024x768 VGA with true colour (minimum)
  • Mouse or other pointing device
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 SP1


AutoCAD 2005 System Requirements


  • Intel Pentium III or later with 800Mhz Processor
  • Microsoft Windows XP (Professional, Home Edition, or Tablet PC Edition), Windows 2000
  • 256 MB RAM (minimum)
  • 300 MB free disk space
  • 1024x768 VGA with true colour (minimum)
  • Mouse or other pointing device
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 SP1


AutoCAD 2004 System Requirements


  • Intel Pentium III or later, with 800 MHz or faster processor, or compatible
  • Microsoft Windows XP (Professional, Home Edition, or Tablet PC Edition)
  • Windows 2000, or Windows NT 4.0 (SP6a or later)
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 300 MB free disk space for installation
  • 1024x768 VGA with true colour (minimum)
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0
  • Mouse, trackball, or compatible pointing device
  • CD-ROM drive

Avoid digital eye strain and other tech health problems

(Kim Komando) You know the blurry vision and dry eyes you get when you've been staring at a computer, smartphone, TV or other screen for a few hours? According to researchers at a group called the Vision Council, that's not a good thing. And to really drive the point home, it's dubbed the problem "digital eye strain."

The Vision Council defines digital eye strain as "the temporary discomfort that follows from two or more hours of digital device use." Common symptoms include "red, dry or irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, back, neck and shoulder pain, and headaches."

 According to the Vision Council's latest survey, 70 percent of tech users experience digital eye strain regularly. While it's suspiciously convenient that a group representing eye companies is bringing this up, it's no secret that technology causes some unique health problems - and not just for your eyes.

In addition to digital eye strain, some other tech health problems are repetitive-stress injury, shoulder tension, back and neck pain, and increased risk of cancer, heart disease and obesity. Some studies show that extended computer use can shave 10-15 years off of your life!

Before I continue, just let me remind you that I'm not a doctor. If you're experiencing chronic pain or other odd symptoms, consult a professional for a formal diagnosis.

In the end, however, almost every tech health problem comes down to two things: Insufficient breaks and poor posture.

Many doctors recommend that every 20 minutes you look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to focus at a different distance, and get away from the bright screen backlight.

Speaking of backlights, grab a program like F.lux to match your monitor tint to the time of day. It can decrease eye strain and improve your sleep.

Every hour or so, stand up and do some quick stretches or walk around your house. Programs like BreakTaker and Workrave can help remind you when it's time to take breaks.

You should strive for about 30 minutes of daily exercise, too. Walking the dog or doing some yard work is enough for most people. This improves your circulation after sitting for hours on end.

Posture is just as important. Have you heard about "iPosture"? This refers to the way most people use phones and tablets: head down and shoulders hunched over. It can lead to back and neck strain, in addition to the digital eye strain from staring at a small screen.

In fact, studies show that teens and young adults are increasingly having medical problems from standing or sitting this way for long periods. Not to mention thumb injuries from continual texting.

For smartphones and tablets, it's better to sit upright and keep the gadget just below eye level. Again, taking regular breaks for your eyes and hands is important.

Bring the screen brightness down as far as possible and then increase it gradually to find a point where it's comfortably visible. Not only will this reduce eye strain from too-bright backlights, it makes your battery last longer. Learn how to adjust the brightness and more in this essential tip on improving gadget battery life.

Good posture at a computer is just as important. Start with a good chair that offers lumbar support, and sit at a 110-135 degree angle.

Adjust your seat so that your feet touch the floor and your legs rest at about a 90 degree angle. Your knees should be even with or a little lower than your hips. Your forearms and wrists should rest comfortably on your desk or work table, with your elbows at a 90-degree angle.

Many people like the gel-filled wrist rest for keyboards and mouse pads. While it seems like it would help to rest your wrists on these while working, it doesn't. When you're typing and moving your mouse, you want to keep your wrists in the air, level with your hand.

This allows your hand and arm to move together naturally. Otherwise, you end up stretching your fingers and moving your hands into odd angles while hitting keys and moving the mouse.

Another common problem is that too many people set their monitors too low. This causes them to slouch, or scrunch, which puts strain on the neck and shoulders.

Then there's what's on the screen. When you're browsing the Web, for example, you might notice the fonts and images on your screen are too small. This can cause you to lean forward or strain your eyes trying to read.

In any Windows browser, and many programs, use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + + (plus) to zoom in and CTRL + - (minus) to zoom out. CTRL + 0 (zero) brings the zoom back to 100 percent.

BIOS beep codes

When you power on your computer, the motherboard's basic input/output system (BIOS) first detects the computer's internal hardware configuration and then performs the power-on self-test (POST). The POST executes several diagnostic tests that check the basic functionality of the power supply, motherboard, CPU, I/O Bus Controller, RAM, keyboard, and video components. If the computer passes the POST, it will usually return a single short beep or two short beeps, depending on the BIOS manufacturer. If the POST detects any problems, it will halt the boot process and return an error message either visually on the screen and/or audibly through a series of beeps.

Unfortunately, there is no official standard for beep codes. Depending on the BIOS manufacturer, a keyboard controller failure could be three, four, five, or six beeps. While this document lists common BIOS manufacturer beep codes, you should always consult your motherboard's documentation, the manufacturer's Web site, and the BIOS manufacturer's Web site for a definitive beep code list for your particular BIOS. The information contained in the following lists was gathered from various BIOS manufacturers' Web sites.

AMI BIOS beep codes

Number of beeps

Problem description

Troubleshooting recommendation


Memory refresh timer error

Reseat memory or replace with known good chips.


Parity error

Reseat memory or replace with known good chips.


Base 64K memory read/write test failure

Reseat memory or replace with known good chips.


Motherboard timer not operational

Repair/replace motherboard.


Processor error

Repair/replace motherboard.


8042—gate A20 failure/Keyboard controller BAT test error

Reseat keyboard controller chip, replace keyboard controller chip, check for a keyboard fuse, or try a different keyboard.


Processor exception interrupt error

Repair/replace motherboard.


Display memory read/write failure

Replace video card or video card memory.


ROM checksum error/Faulty BIOS chips

Replace chips or motherboard.


CMOS shutdown register read/write error

Repair/replace motherboard.


Cache memory bad

Repair/replace motherboard.


Award BIOS beep codes

Number of beeps

Problem description

Troubleshooting recommendation

1 long & 2 short

Video error

Check the video card.

Any other beeps

RAM problem

Reseat the RAM or replace with known good chips.



PhoenixBIOS beep codes

Unfortunately, PhoenixBIOS beep codes are significantly more complicated than other BIOS manufacturers. Instead of a single beep code set, PhoenixBIOS codes consist of a series of beep code sets separated by a short pause. Older Phoenix BIOS Plus and PhoenixBIOS 1.x systems used a series of three sets, while the PhoenixBIOS 4.x systems use a series of four sets. The codes listed below are only some of the more than 100 codes for the PhoenixBIOS 4.x. For a complete list of Phoenix BIOS POST task routines and beep codes, please visit their Web site or review your motherboard's documentation.

Number of beeps

POST routine description/problem

Troubleshooting recommendation


One short beep before boot

Normal operation


Verify real mode

A problem exists with the CPU and/or motherboard. Check and replace if necessary.


Get CPU type

A problem exists with the CPU and/or motherboard. Check and replace if necessary.


Initialize system hardware

A problem exists with the motherboard. Check and replace if necessary.


Initialize chipset with initial POST values

A problem exists with the motherboard. Check and replace if necessary.


Set IN POST flag

A problem exists with the motherboard. Check and replace if necessary.


Initialize CPU registers

A problem exists with the CPU and/or motherboard. Check and replace if necessary.


Initialize I/O component

A problem exists with the I/O port hardware or a device connected to an I/O port. It could also be an expansion device in the PC or the motherboard.


Initialize keyboard controller

An error has occurred with the keyboard or keyboard controller. Try a new keyboard or replace the keyboard controller on the motherboard.


BIOS ROM checksum

Replace either the BIOS ROM chip or the motherboard.


8237 DMA controller initialization

Check the motherboard and any expansion cards that use DMA.


Test DRAM refresh

Check the first bank of memory and the motherboard.


Test 8742 keyboard controller

An error has occurred with the keyboard or keyboard controller. Try a new keyboard or replace the keyboard controller on the motherboard.


RAM failure on line xxxx

Check the first bank of memory and the motherboard.


RAM failure on data bits xxxx of low byte memory bus

Check the first bank of memory and the motherboard.


Check video configuration against CMOS

Check the video card or video card memory.


Initialize PCI bus and devices

A problem exists with the I/O port hardware or a device connected to an I/O port. It could also be an expansion device in the PC or the motherboard.


Test keyboard

An error has occurred with the keyboard or keyboard controller. Try a new keyboard or replace the keyboard controller on the motherboard.


Test for unexpected interrupts

Check for a faulty motherboard or expansion card.


Detect and install external parallel ports

A problem exists with the I/O port hardware or a device connected to an I/O port. It could also be an expansion device in the PC or the motherboard.


Initialize floppy controller

Check your hard drive(s), floppy drive(s), and motherboard.


Initialize hard-disk controllers

Check your hard drive(s), floppy drive(s), and motherboard.


Initialize local-bus hard-disk controllers

Check your hard drive(s), floppy drive(s), and motherboard.


Set time of day

Check the motherboard's real-time clock (RTC).


Keyboard controller failure

An error has occurred with the keyboard or keyboard controller. Try a new keyboard or replace the keyboard controller on the motherboard.



Dell BIOS beep codes

Because Dell uses motherboards and BIOSs from several manufacturers, their computers use a variety of beep codes. Instead of listing each model's beep codes, links are provided to the support pages of several popular Dell desktops.


System codes and messages link

Dimension 900

Dimension 2100

Dimension 4100

Dimension 4200

Dimension 4300

Dimension 4300S

Dimension 4400

Dimension 8100

Dimension 8200

Dimension C

Dimension L

Dimension Lxxxc

Dimension P133a, P166a, M166a, M200a, and M233a

Dimension XPS Txxx and Txxxr

Dimension Vxxx and Vxxxc

Dimension XPS B Series

Dimension XPS Dxxx

Dimension XPS H233 and XPS H266

Dimension XPS P60 FS

Dimension XPS P60 M

Dimension XPS 50/66 FS

Dimension XPS 50/66 MDT (V4xxV)

Dimension XPS Rxxx

OmniPlex 5xx/ME

OptiPlex G1

OptiPlex GC

OptiPlex Gn and Gn+

OptiPlex GX1

OptiPlex GX1 Small-Form-Factor

OptiPlex GX1p

OptiPlex GXi

OptiPlex GX110

OptiPlex GX115

OptiPlex GX200

OptiPlex GX300

OptiPlex GXa

OptiPlex GXpro

OptiPlex N

OptiPlex NX

OptiPlex NX1

OptiPlex XMT575/590/5100/5120/5133

Precision WorkStation 210

Precision WorkStation 340

Precision WorkStation 400

Precision WorkStation 410

Precision WorkStation 420

Precision WorkStation 530

Precision WorkStation 610 Mini Tower

Precision WorkStation 620

Precision WorkStation 730


HP BIOS beep codes

Because Hewlett-Packard uses a variety of motherboards and BIOSs, their computers use a variety of beep codes. Instead of listing each model's beep codes, links are provided to the support pages of several popular Hewlett-Packard desktops.


System codes and messages link


Kayak XA-S Series 02xx

Kayak XU Series 04xx

Kayak XU Series 03xx

Kayak XW Series U3-W3

Kayak XW Series 04xx

Pavilion Desktops with Phoenix BIOS

Pavilion 5010, 5030, and 5040

Pavilion 7010, Pavilion 7020, Pavilion 7030, and Pavilion 7050

Vectra PCs with Phoenix BIOS (VL4, VL5, VE2, VE3, XM4, XA5, and possibly others)


Vectra VE 5/xxx Series 4

Vectra VL600

Vectra XA5

Vectra XA 5/XXX

Vectra XE310

Workstation i2000



IBM BIOS beep codes

Because IBM uses a variety of motherboards and BIOSs, their computers use a variety of beep codes. Instead of listing each model's beep codes, links are provided to the support pages of several popular IBM desktops.


System codes and messages link

   Aptiva 2134 and 2176

   Aptiva 2137, 2138

Aptiva 2140 and 2142

Aptiva 2144 and 2168

Aptiva 2156

Aptiva 2158, 2163 and 2164

   Aptiva 2159

Aptiva 2162

Aptiva 2165

  Aptiva 2170, 2171, and 2172

Aptiva 2187

   Aptiva 2190

Aptiva 2193, 2194, 2196 and 2197

IBM PC300 Type 6344 and 6345

NetVista 2194, 2196, 2197, and 6345

NetVista 6269, 6578, and 6579


Backup Systems That Work

The only thing worse than losing data is discovering that your backups don't work in the first place. Here are four tips that will help you ensure that your backups are indeed in working order.

1. Test regularly. This is the bottom line. Can you recover the data? Never mind that the backup program "verified" the backup. If you don't actually restore data, you'll never be certain your backup is working. How often you should test depends in part on the nature of your operation. The general recommendation is to run your test protocol once a quarter.

2. Test realistically. You can't wipe the server just to do a complete test restore, but there's a lot you can do to make sure the entire recovery process works. A backup test protocol should be designed to make sure all aspects of your recovery operation works with minimal disruption to your regular operations. Often you can automate large parts of the test, but don't skimp on something just because it has to be done manually.

Remember: You need to test the entire backup chain. It's not enough to know that the tape is readable. Can you read it on the system it will be restored on? This is particularly important when performing a restore over a network, SAN or whatever, because a mis-configured network component can keep a restore from working just as much (although perhaps not as permanently) as a corrupted tape.

Don't forget that your people and the documentation are part of the backup chain as well. Backup tests are an opportunity to train your staff in backup and recovery procedures as well as to find holes in your documentation.

A worthwhile procedure is to select a tape or a volume at random, find it, and then try to back up from the data on it. (Note the part about finding the tape; a misfiled tape is as unavailable as an unreadable one.)

3. Test all your backups regularly. Backup is more than what goes into the vault. It includes all the tiers of your backup system, including the incremental backups, any disk-based backups, recovery disks and anything else you need to get up and running again. All these things need to be tested to make sure they're working properly – and that they're working together.

4. Test compliance-related recovery regularly. Technically, record recovery for compliance isn't a part of backup. But it's an increasingly important function fulfilled by backup systems. Test to make sure you can recover files, logs, chains of emails and anything else your company is likely to need for compliance.

None of this has to be traumatic. In fact, if it is traumatic, then you've already discovered you've got problems. If you work out a procedure at the appropriate level of completeness for your enterprise and then do it regularly, it shouldn't take an excessive amount of time or effort. Besides, if nothing else, you'll sleep better at night.

Beware of Office 2013 License

(In what is being called a move to get users to gravitate towards Office 365, Microsoft has confirmed to the folks over at Computerworld that an Office 2013 license locks the software suite to the first computer upon which it is installed, leaving users who buy a new computer out of luck. This is a change from the end user license agreement of times gone by, which allowed the license to be used on a different computer.

The new EULA for Office 2013 reads: “Our software license is permanently assigned to the licensed computer.” Meaning that it is permanently attached to the first computer upon which it is applied, forcing those who update to a new computer to buy a new license, something that was never necessary in the past.

To confirm the language in the EULA, the folks at Computerworld sent Microsoft a message clarifying that once Office 2013 is activated on a computer, the license cannot be reused on a different computer, to which the response was “Correct.” In an attempt to further clarify, Microsoft was then asked whether the EULA prevented users who replaced their computer from reusing their license again on the new PC, to which the company responded that it had no comment.

What is Microsoft’s end goal in changing its Office retail license? To get more users to gravitate to Office 365, it would seem. According to a Microsoft spokesperson, “We’ve been very clear in all of our communications that customers seeking transferability should get Office 365 and that Office 2013 is licensed to one device.

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Bloated Software Problem

BloatWare is the term often used to criticize software companies whose programs grow with each new version, taking up more disk space and/or requiring more memory and other system resources to run. No one can dispute that the operating systems and applications of today are much larger and more complex than those written twenty years ago. But it's also true that today's programs do a lot more, and in most cases do it better, than your grandfather’s programs.

Question is, are we buying faster computers just to handle half-baked Bloated software? It's easy to wax nostalgic about MS-DOS, an OS that required only a few megabytes of disk space (version 6.x needed about 3.5 MB) and could run on 512K (that's kilobytes, not megabytes) of memory. Programs were written in assembly language and only occupied a few “k” of space. On the other hand, the DOS environment and its apps certainly didn't have the bells and whistles you get with Vista or other graphical operating systems.

Still, there has been considerable "Bloat" since the advent of Windows. Windows 95 required only 8 MB of memory and took up less than 50 MB on your hard drive (we're starting with Windows 95 because Windows 3.x was not really an operating system in itself, but a graphical shell that was installed on top of MS-DOS). By the time we get to Windows XP, you need 128MB of RAM and one and a half gigs of disk space to barely run it (512MB of ram to run good).

Many complained that Vista took a Bloated leap in the wrong direction. Previously, memory requirements had more or less doubled with each new Windows OS: 8 MB for Windows 95, 24MB for Windows 98, 32MB for Windows Me, 64MB for Windows 2000, and 128MB for XP. Thus you might expect Vista to require 256MB of RAM, but to run properly, you really need a minimum of 1GB (4 gigs to run well), and hard disk requirements increased tenfold, to about 15GB.

These numbers sound pretty bad, when you look at them in a vacuum. But you also have to consider the advances in computer hardware over that time, and the falling prices of that hardware. In 1995, when I bought a computer to run Windows 95, a low priced system cost almost $2000. Today you can buy a computer that runs Vista for $500.

If you look at individual components, the difference is even more striking. I remember later upgrading my system by spending over $300 for a "huge" 8MB RAM chip (8MB was the amount of memory needed to run Windows 95). Today you can buy a 2 GB memory module (the amount of memory needed to run Vista) for under $40.

Then there's hard disk space. I can still recall the thrill of buying an enormous 1 GB hard disk for my Windows 95 computer, for around $350. Back then, I couldn't imagine how I would ever fill up all that space (of course, I had thought the same thing back in the 80s when I got my IBM PC with its gargantuan 10MB hard disk, too). Last weekend, Tom and I took a stroll through the local Fry's and came away with an external 1TB hard drive (that's 1024 times the size of my 1GB drive) - for $199. You can get an internal 1TB drive (more comparable to my 1GB drive) for under $150.

These days, what with 12 megapixel digital photos and high resolution videos and recorded TV programs, I no longer suffer from the delusion that we won't quickly fill up the space.

If you do the math, then, you'll see that the price per MB of memory has fallen from $37.50 in the mid 1990s to less than 3 cents, and the price per GB of hard disk space has fallen from $350 to under 15 cents. Even if you factor in inflation, that's quite a price difference. So, given the amounts of memory and disk space that are available to us at such low prices, does it really matter if operating systems and applications are subject to Bloat?

Some folks say yes. Others say software Bloat is inevitable. Most of us have heard of Moore's Law, which said that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits doubled every year, and was later extrapolated by others to mean that computer processing power doubles every year (or later, every 18 months). Parkinson's Law states that "resource requirements expand to consume the resources available." And that doesn't just apply to software developers; we're all guilty. Ever move into a new, bigger home that seems enormously spacious compared to your old one, only to find that a few years later, you've outgrown your house again?

Just because Bloat is the natural order of things, though, doesn't necessarily mean it's a good thing. Most of us packrats wish, from time to time, that we could get rid of all that junk and start over with a more minimalist approach. And not all packrat behavior is created equal, either. If you're using up your extra space by hoarding non-perishable food and medical supplies or housing collections of valuables that are increasing in value over time, that's different from keeping old, useless magazines or boxes of paid bills dating back to the 1970s (as I found in my mom's house when we started cleaning it out after her death).

Likewise, software Bloat can be caused by different things: less efficient (but easier to use) development tools (for example, writing code in Visual C++ vs. writing it in lean, mean - but more difficult - assembly language), just plain sloppy coding by less skilled programmers, or "featuritis," the addition of more and more features to the software in an effort to please all of the people, all of the time. Older versions of Windows didn't have built in music players and burners, built in firewalls and MalWare protections, built in graphics manipulation programs, and so forth. You had to install applications to do all that. As users demand that more and more functionality come with the operating system, it's bound to increase its size and resource requirements.

Bill Gates, in a recent speech in Asia, said that the "Internet service revolution" that will lead to machines will lots of low-cost storage and server capacity will allow developers to "write software in even more ambitious ways, eliminating the last constraints we have."

Presumably that means programs will be even bigger (and, we hope, correspondingly better) in the future.

Of course, there's another definition of BloatWare, which refers not to the size of the OS or any individual program, but rather to the amount of extra software that computer vendors install on their systems. When you boot up a brand new computer, you usually find yourself with a bunch of "bonus" software that you neither want nor need - often limited time trial versions of popular programs such as Norton, Quickbooks, Office, photo and music programs and software from national ISPs. You've probably had the frustrating experience of spending hours getting rid of all those unwanted programs that use up hard disk space and may slow down the performance of your computer. Sometimes, even when you feel you have deleted them, they come back six months later and ask you to install, update, or pay for it, not to mention the resources it takes whilst hiding in your system. (That’s why we format drives on new system).

Some hardware vendors are catching on that this does not make their customers happy. In 2007, Dell started offering the option, when you buy online, to check a box that would block the installation of what many in the industry not-so-affectionately call "CrapWare." However, this only applied to certain models of Dell computers. Early this year, Sony came out with their "Fresh Start" program that would let customers buy some models without the TrialWare and "free" software. They caused quite a controversy at first by charging $50 for the privilege, but in March 2008 announced that Fresh Start would be a free option.

Blog Tips

Use WordPress. OR Drupal. No other platform is as flexible with all the plug-ins, in my opinion.
  1. If possible, use a custom WordPress theme. I use  Thesis. It is getting to the point where people can recognize cookie-cutter themes. It is OK to use one, but at least modify it so that you have a unique header design.
  2. Post often. I usually try to post every 3 days. Sometimes more often if something just hits me. If you can do one per day then power to ya.
  3. Use catchy blog post titles. Put yourself in the shoes of a person who is casually surfing the Internet, seeing your post along with hundreds of others. Will your blog headline stand out? Copyblogger is an awesome source for information on writing.
  4. Ask open ended questions. One of the best ways to invite commentary on your posts is to ask for it. Ask your readers questions and tell them to answer in the form of a comment.
  5. Use Twitter and LinkedIN. You’ve GOT to be out there. Twitter is my number 1 traffic source.
  6. Use Twitterfeed to pipe your latest posts into Twitter. But, don’t ONLY use Twitterfeed. You’ve got to be a real person on Twitter, first and foremost. Twitter should not replace RSS.
  7. Make your RSS feed obvious, above the fold, and preferably use the orange RSS icon.
  8. Use images in your posts. Images communicate on a different level. Flickr is my best FREE source. The pretty colors and eye catching graphics help define your message.
  9. Structure your blog posts for easy scanning. Use header tags, lists, etc. Avoid long sentences and long paragraphs.I purposely break up sentences to make it easier to read.
  10. Don’t discount Facebook. It is a powerful networking tool and you should take the time to build your network, just as you might on Twitter. Yes, I know I have a certain point of view! I don’t have a Facebook page and still get several referral hits.
  11. Don’t Be a Me-Too Blogger. You don’t want to become a copy-cat news blog, where you type news-style posts about what is happening in a saturated market. If you can’t think of anything to write get a guest post. Look at this one and this one.  No way do I have the ability to write this great stuff.
  12. Learn to think about your blog as a business. The blog is a promotional and delivery mechanism for your commercial real estate business.
  13. Keep your posts short and concise. 400-600 words is a good number.People only have so much time.
  14. When writing your About Page, pay attention to what you write. Don’t just rattle off some dumb, cookie cutter facts. Your About Page should tell a story of who you are and why your blog is worth reading. Mine is simple and to the point.
  15. Link to other, related blog posts regularly in your own posts. Not only your OWN posts, but the posts of others.
  16. Remember, blogging is a SOCIAL business. Be accessible to your readers and proactively get out there and talk with other people in your business.
  17. Embed a video. Make sure it is short video. Video has a great visual impact.
  18. Write an e-book, create some videos. The idea is to create something which is of value to your readers.
  19. Don’t Post Low Feedburner Counts. Do not show your RSS subscriber count unless you have a high enough number (at least a few hundred). A low number acts as social proof that your blog has no readers, and that’s not good.
  20. Put relevant keywords into your blog’s title. Use All-In-One SEO to have more control over the titles across your blog.
  21. While I am in the middle of this…THERE ARE NO RULES! …just guidelines.
  22. Create an RSS widget for your blog on WidgetBox and make it available for your readers to embed on their own blogs if they so choose.
  23. Spend some time creating some killer posts for your blog, then link to them somewhere so that new arrivals can quickly see your best work. I use the Most Popular of All Time List. It is your best stuff which is going to sell them into becoming a subscriber.
  24. Make Sharing Easy. Put options on your blog for your readers to share your posts across social media. Sexybookmarks is a great option for this.
  25. Read other blogs often. When starving for ideas to write about, go to your RSS reader and read related blogs. Often, your own post can be a response to a post on another blog. In fact, this is usually a good idea.
  26. When starting a blog, decide on it’s mission. Your posts should, for the most part, center around a specific theme if you want your blog to really take off. If you run a personal diary kind of blog stay on topic. If you have no specific topic, that’s fine, but realize your blog is going to be more a hobby than a positive addition to your commercial real estate business at that point.
  27. Don’t overload your blog with javascript widgets. These things slow down the load speed of your site.
  28. Use Analytics. I personally use Google Analytics as well as the Stats plug-in on my blog.
  29. Don’t be a PIMP. You know what I mean.
  30. Be yourself.
  31. Don’t write like you’re writing for a grade at school ( works for me!) You want your spelling and grammar to be correct, but be colloquial. Talk to people like you would normally talk to people, not as if you’re writing a PH.D. dissertation.
  32. Link To Your Social Profiles On Your Blog. Link your various social media profiles right on your blog so that your readers can connect with you outside the confines of your blog.
  33. Get Worldwide and Mobil. Use WordPress Translator and WordPress Mobil Pack.
  34. Go where your readers are. Every market is different.  I know most of my readers are pretty adept online and probably hang out in the social media space frequently. Where else are your potential readers?
  35. Equal time reading and writing. You should probably spend just as much time reading and learning as you do writing for your blog. This is how you expand your knowledge, become a better blogger, and get new ideas for your own site. Blogging isn’t all about you.
  36. Be consistent. This should be number 1. The reader will know when you are putting up something new and will give them a chance to make you a reading habit. Don’t make them work and don’t wear them out.

Boost Weak Cell Phone Service

(Yardena Arar @ PCWorld) The problem is familiar to many cell phone users: When you're indoors, even within your carrier's coverage area, the network's signal sometimes simply isn't strong enough to support voice calls or data services. With so many consumers ditching their landlines for cell phones, poor reception at home is no longer acceptable. Fortunately, a slew of products now address the problem, though they don't come cheap.

Signal-boosting products generally fall into one of two categories: femtocells or signal repeaters. Both types of equipment can deliver strong signals within buildings, but they work in fundamentally different ways.

Femtocells act as miniature cell phone towers that connect to a home network router and use your wired broadband connection to move voice calls and data services to and from your carrier's network. Femtocells don't rely on the carrier's towers at all, but because they use technology that can direct data and calls back to the carrier networks over the Internet, most of them are sold by the carriers themselves.

Repeaters and boosters, on the other hand, amplify and rebroadcast cell tower signals. Since they don't require carrier support, they tend to be manufactured and sold by third parties such as Wi-Ex (under the brand name ZBoost) and Wilson Electronics.

Understanding Femtocells

While repeaters have been around for several years, femtocells are relative newcomers to the mobile scene. Of the four major U.S. carriers, two--Sprint and Verizon--have been selling femtocells (under the brand names Airave and Network Extender, respectively) for the past few years; AT&T introduced its 3G MicroCell femtocell last year.


AT&T 3G MicroCell.
AT&T's 3G MicroCell, made by Cisco. Image: AT&T

The first Sprint and Verizon Wireless femtocells supported only voice calls, but current models support high-speed data as well as voice. Sprint charges $130 for its Airave access point (with a two-year service plan); there's no additional charge for using Airave to enhance coverage with an existing plan, but Sprint does offer a $25-a-month unlimited calling plan for Airave calls--which might appeal to anyone who is considering dropping landline voice service. Current Airave access points support EvDO Rev. A 3G data speeds and up to six simultaneous calls.


Verizon Wireless charges $250 for its Network Extender, which also supports 3G data, and the carrier imposes no monthly service fee. AT&T sells the MicroCell for $150, also with no mandatory service fee; it also offer an optional $20-a-month unlimited calling plan, plus price breaks for customers who sign up for the company's DSL service.

The Beauty of the Femtocell

Femtocells appeal to consumers and carriers on several levels. Consumers like them because they provide immediate five-bar coverage across an area of up to 2500 square feet, regardless of how far you are from a cell phone tower. A strong signal typically means better voice quality, fewer dropped calls, and faster data speeds. Good signals also improve a phone's battery life, since its radios don't have to work as hard.


How femtocells work.
Femtocells are low-power wireless access points that operate within a licensed spectrum to connect standard mobile devices to a mobile operator’s network via residential DSL or cable broadband connections. Image: Femto Forum

Another benefit: You can configure the femtocell to recognize and prioritize the phones you authorize, so neighbors can't mooch off your service at your expense. Interestingly, Verizon Wireless's FAQ for its Network Extender says that, though you can prioritize up to 50 Verizon Wireless numbers, the device will remain available to all Verizon Wireless subscribers within range when priority numbers aren't using it.


This brings us to a big reason why wireless providers like femtocells: They offload some of the expense that the carriers might otherwise incur in order to expand network capacity and/or coverage. Femtocells also help retain customers in locations where carriers can't significantly improve reception on their own (such as basements, suburbs that don't want new cell towers, locales with difficult topography such as steep hills and valleys, and skyscrapers with thick walls). In fact, forum posts indicate that Sprint has occasionally given customers Airave units to keep them from switching to another carrier.

Brainstorming Doesn’t Really Work–Why What Does

studies have proven that brainstorming doesn’t really work, in terms of producing the largest quantity of feasible ideas, when compared to solo idea generation that is later shared with colleagues. So writes Jonah Lehrer in the article “Groupthink,” which appears in the January 30, 2012 issue of The New Yorker (note: requires a subscription or paid access to read online). He cites historical research conducted at Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley, which come to this conclusion...

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Brilliant Web Page Design

All of the homepage designs shown here utilize a combination of the following elements. Not every page is perfect, but the best homepage designs get many of these right:

  • Clearly answers "Who I am," "What I do," and/or "What can you (the visitor) do here." If you're a well-known brand or company (i.e. Coca Cola) you may be able to get away with not having to describe who you are and what you do; but the reality is, most businesses still need to answer these questions so that each visitor knows they are in the "right place." Steven Krugg sums it up best in his best-selling book, Don't Make Me Think. If visitors can't identify what it is you do within seconds, they won't stick around long.
  • Resonates with the target audience. A homepage needs to be narrowly focused -- speaking to the right people in their language. The best homepages avoid "corporate gobbledygook," and eliminate the fluff.
  • Compelling value-proposition. When a visitor arrives on your homepage, it needs to compel them to stick around. The homepage is the best place to nail your value proposition so that prospects choose to stay on your website and not navigate to your competitors.
  • Usability and mobility. All the homepages listed here are highly usable, meaning they are easy to navigate and there aren't "flashy" objects that get in the way of browsing, such as flash banners, animations, pop-ups, or overly-complicated and unnecessary elements. Many of them are also mobile-optimized, which is an incredibly important must-have in today's mobile world.
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs). Every homepage listed here effectively uses primary and secondary calls-to-action in order to direct visitors to the next logical step. Examples include "Free Trial," "Schedule a Demo," "Buy Now," or "Learn More." Remember, the goal of the homepage is to compel visitors to dig deeper into your website and move them further down the funnel. CTAs tell them what to do next so they don't get overwhelmed or lost. More importantly, CTA's turn your homepage into a sales or lead-generation engine, and not just brochure-wear.
  • Always changing. The best homepages aren't always static. Some of them, like, are constantly changing to reflect the needs, problems, and questions of their visitors. Some homepages also change from A/B testing or dynamic content.
  • Great overall design. A well-designed page is important to building trust, communicating value, and navigating visitors to the next step. As such, these homepages effectively use layout, CTA placement, whitespace, colors, fonts, and other supporting elements.

Business Basics 7 Tips

The success of a business does not rely on how big and influential it is, how good the product is, or how well connected and established it is. Forget about all those factors – the success relies on the people that work behind the project. The people who innovate, decide the strategy, market the product and create the business are the ones who are truly putting the business in motion.

Furthermore, business people and entrepreneurs get the knowledge and skills they use in their businesses from what they have learned in business schools, yet there are essential things that are not taught in school that can be key.

1) Being Grounded

It is very hard – almost impossible to teach people to be nice since most of the time, nice people are born/raised that way. For instance, try to observe around you and analyze who you think would qualify as a nice person. Try to see what  they do for others that you don’t do.  Think about the people you hire and want in your business especially when carrying out the business social networking. Would you hire someone who does not use signals when changing lanes? A person who does not hold a door open for you? Becoming nice is not actually taught in business school, it is just how the person handles him or herself without being taught. And believe me, this can make a great difference when closing deals, getting hired, running a successful business etc.

2) Getting Your Personal Finances In Order

“You will never get rich by working for someone else,” this is a common line we hear all the time. The  value of money has been taught to us since we were children, and is something that they don’t teach you in school. In other words, business schools focus on professional skills rather that on the personal finance skills such as learning how to organize personal finances and structuring budgets.

3) Knowing When To Leave

There are times when we want to leave our respective jobs, no matter how long we have stayed there.  But when is it time to REALLY leave?  If you have observed any of the following, consider this as an alarm:

  • You don’t know what else to do
  • The job is not fun anymore
  • You have been passed over the promotion several times
  • You really don’t care anymore
  • You are working with the same boring people at the same boring company/environment

If you have experienced at least 3 of this, then it’s the right time for you to leave ASAP.

4) Finding a Mentor

Every successful person has at least one mentor that has influenced their success.  Many have achieved their dreams and plans looking up to their mentors.

5) Generating Revenue for your Company

This is one thing that business schools do not teach you. “The real purpose of the organization is to generate revenue.” How do you do that? As hard as it may seem, all you need is efficiency when trying to increase your productivity, effectiveness, sensitivity and profitability as a responsible employee/person.

6) Moving at least every two to three years within the Organization

Individuals who have been in their same job description for at least 10-15 years are the ones who have been reduced in force in the last 10 years.  Actually, you can grab  competitive edge in any organization even if it means taking a lateral position or a demotion by moving every two to three years.

7) Learning and Applying Business and Social Etiquette

Today, there are tons of people who lack politeness consideration, and thoughtfulness. This doesn’t just affect the workplace but our society in general. A lot of people tend to forget that, in everything you do, there is always an extra set of eyes watching you.  Senior executives are actually observing behaviors at business meetings and social events, looking at how you treat your peers and employees, how you communicate through writing and speaking, and how you absorb feedback about yourself.  It is important for you to have strong knowledge on business and social etiquette.

Unfortunately, courses in business and social etiquette are not offered in a business school. Nevertheless, these are just a few of the things that are not emphasized in schools that each person must know and apply in order to succeed in their future or even present career.

Moreover, investing in yourself is something you must do to succeed, not only for work but also in life. Self investment is not only limited to educating yourself through seminars and courses, however it also refers to going after opportunities in your current job and venture which will challenge you.

CAT 5 Patch Cable Creation Guide

Before you begin creating your CAT 5 patch cable, it's important to point out that the method outlined here is only one method. It is by no means the only or best method. Also, make sure you have all the necessary tools and materials before you begin. You will need a length of CAT cable, several RJ-45 connectors, and a crimp tool.

  1. Most crimp tools have two blades: one designed to cut completely through a cable and the other designed to strip the cable jacket/insulation. Using the latter blade, strip the cable jacket/insulation back about an inch, so all the wires inside are exposed. Be careful not to cut the inside wires when stripping the cable’s insulation.
  2. With the jacket/insulation removed, you'll find eight wires and a string inside the CAT 5 cable. Cut the string off, and untwist the wires back to within one-eighth inch of the jacket.
  3. Fan the wires out from left to right in the order they are to be crimped. The crimping order depends on the type of cable you are making. For this guide, we will be wiring the cable to CAT 5 EIA 568B specifications. This is the configuration for a standard CAT 5 patch cable (See Table 1 and Figure A).


Table 1: How to wire a CAT 5 (EIA 568B) Patch Cable

Connector #1

Connector #2

  1. White/Orange
  1. White/Orange
  1. Orange/White
  1. Orange/White
  1. White/Green
  1. White/Green
  1. Blue/White
  1. Blue/White
  1. White/Blue
  1. White/Blue
  1. Green/White
  1. Green/White
  1. White/Brown
  1. White/Brown
  1. Brown/White
  1. Brown/White

Note: The first color listed in the color pair is the dominant color of the wire. In other words, White/Orange is a white wire with orange stripes.


Cable TV Cut Tempting With Aereo Technology

(Broadcast networks make many of their shows available on the Internet, but you usually have to wait at least a day after an episode airs on television. A subscription service called Aereo breaks those shackles and makes network programs available right away.

That sounds too good to be true, and in a sense it is. First, it works only in New York City for now, though Aereo said Tuesday that it will expand to 22 more U.S. cities this spring. Its channel selection is limited to 29 over-the-air channels and Bloomberg TV. It doesn't include the other cable networks I frequently watch.

The biggest caveat is the fact that broadcast networks are suing to shut it down. More on that later.

Aereo is no fly-by-night pirate operation. The startup is backed by big money and a big name — media billionaire Barry Diller. Aereo believes what it is doing is legal. It has created tiny antennas, each the size of a dime. The company stuffs thousands of them into small boxes at its data center in Brooklyn.

When you're ready to watch a show, you are assigned one of those antennas, as if you had your own antenna on your roof. You get a second one, too, if you want to record something to watch later. You can also record both shows for later. Shows you watch live or record for later viewing are streamed over the Internet to a Web browser.

A day pass costs $1 and gives you 10 days to watch up to three hours of recorded shows. You can pay $8 a month for unlimited live viewing and 20 hours of storage, or $12 for 40 hours. Or you can pay $80 for a full year and 40 hours. That annual price is less than what I pay my cable company for TV each and every month. It's a great deal for people who mostly watch broadcast television and not a lot of sports. (Regular-season games are typically on cable channels these days.)

I've been trying out Aereo since September to record and watch all sorts of programs on Aereo — both highbrow shows such as "Downton Abbey" and guilty-pleasure ones such as "Revenge."

Service is now available on Mac and Windows computers, iPhones, iPads, Apple TV and Roku's set-top box. The company says access on Android devices should come this year. You can watch on up to five devices, meaning you can start watching on your desktop at home and continue where you left off on an iPhone while waiting for the bus. Two people can watch different shows at once, but not the same show on different devices.

To get started, simply flip through an interactive program guide, similar to the kind you'd see on TiVo or a digital video recorder from your cable or satellite TV company. You can also search for specific shows or keywords. Typing in "Giants" pulled up shows on the football team and giant animals.

Once you come across a show you're interested in, simply choose "Watch" or "Record." Watching "live" is actually delayed by several seconds because of the time it takes to convert signals into Internet data and send to you, so don't make any impromptu sports bets. If you choose to record a show, you can do it for just that one episode, for new episodes only or for everything including reruns. Keep in mind that "everything" means everything. I managed to record some PBS shows multiple times — filling up my 40-hour allotment — because of repeats overnight.

To watch a recorded show, simply choose it from a list. Like most video players, Aereo lets you jump to any portion of a show, so you can watch just the ending or go back a third of the way in. Depending on whether you watch in a small window or the full screen, you can replay the past 10 or 30 seconds or jump 30 seconds ahead — perfect to skip over one commercial.

Aereo isn't an on-demand service. So if you hadn't recorded a show, you can't go back to watch it. That's where Hulu comes in. It typically offers the past five episodes of shows from NBC, ABC, Fox and the CW. Where Aereo is particularly useful is in filling the gaps — CBS and PBS, plus local programs such as the news.

Aereo also lets you start watching even before a show ends, just like a regular DVR. Most shows on Hulu aren't available until the next day, and those on Fox take more than a week unless you pay for a subscription. You get the same commercials that are shown over the air, and you can skip them. Hulu has different ads, which you can't skip. Shows are available on Aereo until you delete them or run out of space, while Hulu drops the oldest episodes as new ones appear.

As I mentioned earlier, Aereo is available only in New York City, not even the suburbs, until this spring's expansion. That restriction extends to watching shows while traveling, even if you're a legitimate New York subscriber. Aereo performs a check of your location when you log on, using your numeric Internet Protocol address and other tools. Mistakes happen — the service thinks my office is outside New York because my employer's network is based elsewhere. But it's easy to bypass that and use the service anyway, after reading a warning that use outside New York City is a terms of service violation.

There are a few other limitations:

— The program guide looks forward two weeks or less, so you can't record shows beyond that, even if you know their names. I missed several shows during the fall television season because they started later than others and hadn't appeared yet when I got around to setting up the recordings. With TiVo, I can simply type in a keyword, and shows will automatically record, even a year later.

— Aereo won't let me remove specific episodes from the list of future shows to record. I'd have to drop the entire series, or quickly delete them after recording to avoid running out of space.

— A handful of shows didn't record because of unspecified recording errors. A few "90210" episodes got mysteriously chopped off. I've encountered fewer glitches since I started using Aereo, but keep in mind it's still infant.

— The interface is intuitive when it works, but early on, I had to refresh the browser often because the website would freeze. I've also managed to hit the wrong part of the screen too many times. On Election Night, I was inadvertently watching news broadcasts on a half-hour delay and learned of President Barack Obama's victory on Facebook because key states were still too close to call on my delayed broadcast.

— Video quality depends partly on the Internet connection. Video can look good on a large, high-definition TV set, but at times, it stutters on my small laptop, particularly over a wireless network. I don't get the same stuttering with Hulu. During Superstorm Sandy, service went down completely for about four hours because of problems with one of Aereo's Internet providers.

I could see Aereo being useful for live broadcasts you can't get on Hulu, but during the storm, I had to go back to cable for around-the-clock news. There were pockets of cable outages in the region, but no service-wide disruption.

Aereo isn't ready yet to replace your cable TV service if you need reliability. I've noticed the service get better over the few months I've used it, but there are still kinks to work out. But it's a good option if you care more about saving money.

It's a good supplement to Hulu for its access to CBS, PBS and live shows and quicker availability of shows from ABC, Fox, NBC and the CW. But the restriction on watching shows outside your home area limits its usefulness. I had to turn to Hulu on a laptop to catch up on shows during my various travels.

One unknown is how long Aereo will last.

Copyright-infringement lawsuits filed by the major networks and others accuse Aereo of unlawfully copying and retransmitting their programming over the Internet. Aereo insists what it's doing is legal because customers are assigned individual antennas. Therefore, the company says, it's similar to what viewers would get for free by installing the same equipment at home. By contrast, cable TV companies use a single antenna or direct feed from a broadcaster to pick up a station for thousands of subscribers.

In July, a federal judge in New York refused to give broadcasters a preliminary injunction to stop the service, though the ruling has been appealed.

So if you can live with service hiccups, enjoy Aereo while you can. It makes cutting cable service tempting. But don't tell off the cable guy quite yet. You might have to come crawling back if broadcasters win their lawsuit.


Anick Jesdanun, deputy technology editor for The Associated Press, can be reached at njesdanun(at)


About Aereo:

Aereo offers over-the-air channels and Bloomberg TV over the Internet for $1 a day, $8 or $12 a month or $80 a year. There's also a try-for-free option, limited to a single hour per day.

Aereo lets you watch shows live or record them on an Internet-based digital video recorder for steaming later. It works on most computers and devices, with Android phones and tablet computers the main exception (Android support is expected this year).

Service is now limited to New York City, though it will expand to the suburbs and 22 other U.S. markets this spring. They are Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham, Ala., Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Madison, Wis., Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, R.I., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Salt Lake City, Tampa, Fla., and Washington. Service will extend to those cities' suburbs, based on market regions used by the Federal Communications Commission and Nielsen Media Research.

Can You Network Windows 8 and Windows 7

 Microsoft wanted to shake up the computer world with Windows 8 (to generate income for itself), and it's done a good job. I've received countless questions about this new operating system. Keep in mind that Windows 8 upgrades won't be as expensive as you might expect. For the first couple of months after Windows 8's release, it will be only $40 to upgrade instead of the normal $200 or so. So, if you're planning on upgrading, it's not a bad idea to upgrade all of your computers. However, I expect that this won't be the case for many people. Why upgrade when what you have works just fine.However, if you're planning on using only one Windows 8 computer, you want to know if it will work with other Windows computers.

Microsoft has said that computers running Windows 8 will network with computers running older versions of Windows.

Software compatibility, though, is a little trickier. Any computer running Windows 8 should work with your current software. However, there is a mobile version of Windows 8 called Windows RT that won't work with current software. You might want to look at Microsoft's Windows 8 compatibility checker. It has Microsoft's official compatibility report on hundreds of programs. There are reviews from users on how well the program works, too. Be sure to you know if your programs and computer is 64-bit or 32-bit.

One final thing to keep in mind is that Windows 8 is beginning the transition from programs to apps on computers. While Windows 8 can run older programs, Windows 7 and Vista won't run new Windows 8 apps.

Just keep in mind that buying a new computer OR upgrading to Windows 8 will be like starting from scratch.

Can You Trust Online Reviews

The Federal Trade Commision (FTC), which has taken a few companies to task for rewarding consumers for hyping their products, says the practice of paying a consumer to write a positive review isn't illegal, but not disclosing it is.

Last March a company selling a popular series of guitar-lesson DVDs agreed to pay $250,000 to settle FTC charges that it deceptively advertised its products through online affiliate marketers who falsely posed as ordinary consumers or independent reviewers.

The FTC said the complaint against Nashville, Tennessee-based Legacy Learning Systems Inc. and its owner, Lester Gabriel Smith, is part of an effort to make sure that advertising to American consumers is truthful and not deceptive, whether the advertisements appear in traditional or newer forms of media

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Can't Find You New USB Drive? What To Do....

This sometimes happens if Windows names the drive letter to something that was already in use by another device. See if you can locate the drive and change its drive letter, and this is how we do it:

  1. Right click My Computer and select Manage.
  2. In the right pane of the Computer Management console, go down to Storage and expand it if necessary, then click Disk Management.
  3. It may take a few minutes to populate the right pane. When the disk information appears, your USB drive should show up in this list.
  4. To change the drive letter, right click the drive in the list and select Change Drive Letters and Paths...
  5. The currently assigned letter will be displayed in the dialog box. Click the Change button.
  6. From the drop down list, pick a drive letter that is not being used by any other device and click OK. You'll get a Confirm dialog box; click Yes.

Can't See The Computer Screen? Help Is On The Way

'Some of us as we grow older suffer from limited vision. Some folks suffer from glaucoma and/or the beginnings of macular degeneration. Where can we find information to \"tuneup\" our computers to improve visibility?

Things like screen contrasts, Cursor color, size, and shape, and software that is very simple and easy to see the commands. But many are repeatedly frustrated by screen changes in Google (cannot find the buttons) and popups that are not easily removed (cannot find the buttons). What To Do???

Microsoft XP and Vista includes a number of \"accessibility options\" that allows you adjust the scrollbar and window border size, icons, size and color of the cursor and contrast. There is an Accessibility Wizard that can guide you through the steps. Just go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > Accessibility and click Accessibility Wizard. You can find out more about how to use the wizard here:

If you need more assistance, there are many third party programs designed to assist those with limited vision. These include screen enlargers, screen readers and more. The Assistive Technology Catalog helps you search for those products:

Finally, here's a tutorial for how to make Vista and XP computers easier to see:

Google It: There Is More to Google than Meets the Eye

"Just Google It!! How many times have we heard or said that in our lives. The name "Google" has become part of our lexicon, joining the ranks of "I need a Kleenex", "hand me a cresant wrench",  and "xerox this for me." However, unlike Kleenex, Cresant and Xerox, whose products essentially have just one function, Google does a lot more than just search, including dozens of free apps (online software) that can make your life online easier.

Google Reader

Who has time to visit 30 Web sites? Keeping up-to-date is a full-time job in itself, and knowing what the market is talking about in regards to your product, business or company is critical for success. An RSS reader allows you to keep up on things without having to go to dozens of different Web sites to see if they have new content. RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, lets Web sites deliver their content to a RSS Reader, so you can read the content from multiple sites in one place. Google Reader is small, easy to use and most importantly, fast.  Plus, not only does it let you keep track of all of your favorite Web sites from any computer, it offers the ability to save feeds for later reading or sending to others.  Check it out at

Google Docs

Just about everyone has some sort of office-type application installed on their work computer. For most of us, it's likely Microsoft office.  Office is a great suite, but it has two critical limitations. It's only on your computer and it costs at best a few hundred dollars to purchase.  

Google has an office suite known as Google Docs, which is completely free and available anywhere there's an internet connection. That means you'll be able to view and edit any of your word processing documents, spreadsheets or presentations online at anytime. Now, I hear you asking "why would I want my documents to be online? How many times have you had to pass the same file back and forth with someone while you were working on it?  We've all done that, but using Google Docs, you can just upload your documents, decide who to share them with and work together on the document. When it's done, you can print or email it as you would with any other office suite. Google Docs can be a real time saver, especially when you factor in all the wasted time waiting for the constant back and forth of document collaboration. Have a look at

Google News and Google Alerts

Knowing what's being said about your product or business is critical. You never know when a happy customer talking about your Web site or product can be a great piece of PR — or when someone with a less than favorable experience with your service might be a nightmare. However, if someone wrote something about your business in their blog, you may never know about it; the Web is just too big anymore. Large companies have entire departments dedicated to surfing the Web all day looking for mentions of their company. Unfortunately, the rest of us don’t have that kind of luxury. Good thing for us that there is Google News and Google Alerts.

Setting up "search terms" for your business name or products in Google Alerts and Google News will result in weekly, daily, or even more frequent (if you choose) emails about every single place on the Web your search terms appear. If someone blogs about your product on the other side of the world or a newspaper article in the next town over mentions your Web site, you’ll know about it. Have a look yourself at and

With so much available on the Internet, sometimes it's easy to get into the "ne trick pony" mindset when it comes to what Web sites offer. Dig a little deeper; you never know what you'll find beneath the surface.

Cash, Certified Check, or Money Order - What's The Difference?

Last week, because of “Circumstances”, we asked a customer to pay an invoice with either “Cash” or “Certified Check”. What showed up in the mail box was a “Money Order”. Money Order, well that might be Kool, let’s take it to the bank. Bank said, “ya, we’ll take this money order win an 11 day hold. What??? Why??? Isn’t a Money Order just like Cash or Certified Check???

The bank suggested taking it to WalMart saying “They cash anything”! But guess what, not this Money Order! WalMart said “take it to your Bank”. When I explained that I had already been to the bank, they said “Take it to Publix (a grocery store). And Publix said take it to WalMart.

So I took it back to the folks that orgionally issued the money order. Surely, they should take it.  Mind you, I would not ordinarrily take this kind of time to run to all of these places to cash a check, but my curiosity got the best of me and I just had to let it play. The place that issued the Money Order was a Gas Station / Convenience Store across from my customer’s office. I simply marched up to the counter and asked if they had issued the Money Order. They looked it up and said “Yes, It’s one of ours”. I thought, Finally, I’ll get this thing cashed. No so, “We only issue Money Orders, you’ll have to take it to the Post Office to get it cashed.” When I arrived at the Post Office, well, you guessed it, they wouldn’t take it either. They only take US Postal Service Money Orders.

I felt like I had run this trap line to the end; much further than I should have. So I went back to my customer, told them my experience, and gave them back the Money Order. The went back to the Gas Station where they got it and asked for their money back, and paid me in Cash, but not before telling me that the Gas Station said “their Money Orders are taken everywhere, same as Cash”, and that they don’t understand why I am giving “Them” so much hassle.  Sounds like they didn’t believe me or something.

I did this as a learning experience. Sometimes you have to do more than “know technically” what you are doing and why. Sometime you have to “feel the pain” to really understand. Man, I was feeling it!

So this is what I learned:

Cash is always best. It’s yours, no doubts, and everybody in the 50 states (and most of the world) will take it.

Certified Check: A certified check is a form of check for where the bank verifies that sufficient funds exist in the account to cover the check, and so certifies, at the time the check is written. Those funds are then set aside in the bank's internal account until the check is cashed or returned by the payee. Thus, a certified check cannot "bounce", and, in this manner, it the same as cash in liquidity (unless the bank fails).

Money Order: A money order is purchased for the amount desired. In this way it is “similar to a certified check”. Similar, but with “important differences”. Money orders were originally issued by the U.S. Postal Service as an alternative to sending cash through the mail for those who did not have checking accounts. Today, they are offered by many more vendors than just the US Postal Service as a means to pay bills and send money internationally where there were not reliable banking or postal systems.

However, just because a particular business can issue a money order does not necessarily mean that they will cash them. Due to the increased public awareness of fraudulent Money Orders, counterfeiters are using these to dupe their victims. By obtaining their "mark's" postal zip code, they will draft bogus money orders based on whichever franchises will most likely be in their victim's home area as the familiarity of the store's name offers a sense of security.
Furthermore, money orders are subject to erasing the name and writing in somebody else's name. Money order fraud is specifically not reimbursed by Western Union, and Convenience Store Vendors,  and the victim is required to go through local police to attempt to recover lost funds. In response, the perpetrator who cashed the money order can simply claim "identity theft" to the investigating officer. Money orders for this purpose can be obtained from places like rent drop boxes and convenience stores.

Acceptance of money orders depends on the issuing vendor. US Postal Service, no question, my bank will take it. Western Union, American Express, perhaps a two day hold. But money orders issued by a small-town bank in Georgia or Sheboygan Wisconsin, for example, my bank “will take it with an 11 day hold”.

So for me it’s Cash, Certified Check, and no money orders please!

Cell Phone VS Satellite Phone Service

The way cellular phones work they use zones or small base stations called “cells”. As you move from one area or “cell” your call is “handed off” from the old to the new cell. The switch to the new cell is accomplished by the sending of a special signal to the mobile unit. The Mobile Telephone Switching Office or MTSO connects the cellular calls with the Public Switched Telephone Network or (PSTN). The MTSO also controls all the cell sites. All the cell phones are registered with the control channel so the system knows where to find the cellular phone.

Imagine in a perfect world the cells or zones looked like a large honey bee cone that covered the planet. But this is not possible. It is not cost effective for the cellular providers to put up cell towers in rural areas or many third world countries where there would be low usage. So this makes vast areas of the U.S. and other countries where a cellular phone does not have coverage because if you are not close to a cell tower your cell phone will not work. There is also the issue where your friend's cell phone may work in an area or “cell” and yours does not. That is because their phone is most likely using another cellular provider the uses a tower with a difference technology other than the technology compatible with your phone. Also it would be impossible to place towers out in the ocean far from land, again making your celullarl phone worthless when not close to a cell tower.

Satellite Phones do not use “cells” or cell towers. The most popular hand held satellite telephones use Low Earth Orbiting or LEO satellites. When you turn on your satellite phone the signal goes up to any number of satellites in a compatible constellation where it is then registered with the constellation. Globalstar has 48 satellites and Iridium has 66 that orbit the earth. When making a call the satellite signal goes to the satellites this it is directed down to a ground station or gateway where it is directed by the gateway the to the call destination. The call can be directed to a land-line or PSTN as well as a cellular network. The reverse is also true. Any land-line or cellular network can call satellite phones. The Gateway processes and takes care of the switching of the calls rather than the satellite network. This allows you to use your phone even when you are in the middle or no where far from any cell tower. If you call another compatible satellite phone the call is transmitted up to the satellites and then down to the ground station then transmitted back up to the satellites then down to receiving satellite phone. This is the ultimate secure calling because the encryption is handled at the ground station because the call never goes to a land-line or PSTN. For more information on how this works go to this link     

Change Windows XP Product Key

Time Required: It should take less than 15 minutes to change the Windows XP key

This is how we do it:

  1. Click on Start and then Run.

  2. In the text box in the Run window, type regedit and click OK. This will open the Registry Editor program.

  3. Locate the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE folder under My Computer and click on the (+) sign next the folder name to expand the folder.

  4. Continue to expand folders until you reach the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Current Version\WPAEvents registry key.

  5. Click on the WPAEvents folder.

  6. In the results that appear in the window on the right, locate OOBETimer.

  7. Right-click on the OOBETimer entry and choose Modify from the resulting menu.

  8. Change at least one digit in the Value data text box and click OK. This will deactivate Windows XP.

    Feel free to close Registry Editor at this point.

  9. Click on Start and then Run.

  10. In the text box in the Run window, type the following command and click OK.

    %systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a

  11. When the Let's activate Windows window appears, choose Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows and then click Next.

  12. Click the Change Product Key button at the bottom of the window.

    Don't worry about filling anything out on this screen.

  13. Type your new, valid Windows XP product key in the New key: text boxes and then click the Update button.

  14. You should now reactivate Windows XP by following the instructions on the Activate Windows by phone window which you should now be seeing or via the Internet by clicking the Back button and following the instructions on that screen.

    If you'd rather postpone activating Windows XP until a later date, you can click the Remind me later button.

  15. After activating Windows XP, you can verify that activation was successful by repeating steps 9 and 10 above.

    The Windows Product Activation window that appears should say "Windows is already activated. Click OK to exit."

Charleston Real Estate Benchmark - Show Us Yours and We'll Show Ours

Let's Benchmark - Real Estate - In March 2012 we took on a small Charleston SC Real Estate client that previously averaged about 400 visits per month.

We immediately created a local viral SEO event that netted good results for April. 2,798 visits - 13,9097 hits. (without AdWords)

However, that same month our client contracted with YoXXX. In May the YoXXX landing pages with YoXXX-owned phone numbers and email addresses siphoned off all of the viral campaign gains. When the YoXXX campaign was canceled at the end of the month, their landing pages remained for several month leaving our client with numerous landing pages to nowhere. Phone numbers to nowhere! email addresses to nowhere!

Even so, the clients webpage received steady growth each month.

In February 2013 our client received 10,686 visits and 128,581 hits directly to their webpage..

Are you getting this kind of internet activity directly to your website? The Numbers in Yellow and Blue are important.



Choose Carefully Chromebook VS iPad

( @ TechRepublic) Andy Wolber looks at how each of these devices offers connectivity, applications, and access to data that may transform how you work.

In 2003, the New York Times reported that laptops outsold desktops for the first time. In Q4 2012, NPD forecasts that tablets will outsell laptops for the first time. People are rapidly adopting devices that are lighter, simpler and less expensive than standard corporate laptops.

The Chromebook and iPad represent very distinct approaches to the post-PC device world. The iPad relies on installed apps and a touchscreen. The Chromebook gives us a web browser contained in a traditional laptop form. The iPad 4 and Samsung Chromebook 550 represent the "best available" models, respectively.

Here's a brief look at how each of these devices offers connectivity, applications, and access to data that may transform how you work.

Spec Summary & Comparison

The Samsung Chromebook 550 and iPad 4 both deliver simpler computing experiences then many conventional corporate laptops:

  • Boot times measured in seconds
  • Battery life of 10 hours (iPad) or 6 hours (Chromebook)
  • Weight of 1.5lbs. (iPad) or 3lbs. (Chromebook)
  • Limited access to the file system
  • Streamlined updates of the operating system, apps or extensions
  • Built-in cameras, microphones and speakers for video conferencing
  • Ubiquitous connectivity, thanks to WiFi or WiFi plus cellular data connections.

Some of the newest iPads connect to fast LTE networks; the newest Chromebooks with cellular devices max out with 3G connections.


Samsung Chromebook 550


Both systems encourage user focus, although in different ways. iPad applications inherently fill the screen, encouraging mono-tasking. Chromebooks essentially run a single application - a web browser - complemented by user-added extensions and web apps.

The Chromebook and iPad are distinctly different pieces of hardware. The iPad uses touch, the Chromebook, a conventional trackpad and keyboard. The iPad display changes orientation as the user rotates the device; the Chromebook doesn't. iPad versions with cellular connectivity include GPS; the Chromebook doesn't. The iPad has a back-facing camera for shooting photos or video; the Chromebook doesn't.

Enterprise management features differ, as well. The iPad supports Mobile Device Management of iPads with third party software. Google's own Google Apps' control panel provides controls for management of Chrome OS devices.

Both product lines include multiple models. The Chromebook line now includes devices with 11" screens and slower performance (the $249 Samsung Chromebook), as well as a less-expensive device with a conventional hard drive (the $199 Acer C7 Chromebook). The iPad mini (starting at $329) is considerably smaller and lighter than the iPad, but lacks the "retina display" of the larger iPad.


Apple iPad


Four decisions

1. Internet: Do you need cellular connectivity?

Devices with built-in 3G or 4G connections enable the truly mobile workforce. Give the same workforce WiFi-only devices and you significantly restrict the number of locations from which work can be done.

The hardware cost pales in comparison to the cost of Internet access. Over a two-year period, $10 per month on a shared data plan adds up to $240. A more typical $20 per month accrues to $480. And many plans cost more.

The Chromebook and iPad may change the cost calculation overall for enterprises accustomed to spending $1,500 to $2,000 for traditional WiFi-only laptops. A few hundred dollars for a device, plus several hundred dollars over two years for mobile data becomes an attractive expenditure.

2. Data: How do you access, create and store data?

Input devices matter. Nearly any device handles email and basic document editing. But typing on a physical keyboard may be the fastest way to enter large quantities of data. And drawing a quick sketch with your finger might convey your point clearly. Personal preferences and habits play a significant role when choosing input devices.

Internet-connected iPads or Chromebooks make it possible to redesign data flows. There's no need to write up a paper work order. Instead, take a picture, type text directly into an app or web-form. Hit send. The data is captured and accessible for the next step in the workflow.

3. Applications: What apps do you need?

Legacy application requirements may represent one of the biggest barriers to adoption of "Post-PC" devices. Microsoft Office, notably, is not available for either device. Office Web Apps work in a browser and may be sufficient for some users. QuickOffice Pro HD or Documents to Go enable editing of Microsoft Office documents locally on the iPad.

In other cases, virtualized solutions work. Nivio provides virtualized desktops and software - solutions previously only feasible for large corporate IT teams. Citrix Receiver for iPad enables enterprise desktop access, while GoToMyPC and LogMeIn provide remote desktop services.

In the long term, choose solutions that work both in a browser and as installed apps. Google Drive is moving toward this rapidly: Google Drive works fully in the Chromebook browser, while the Google Drive app on iOS lets you create and edit Docs and Sheets. Evernote is similarly useful, working in both a browser and via locally-installed apps on many platforms.

4. Device: What task do you need to accomplish?

Choose devices best suited for the tasks you need to accomplish. Note the use of the plural: devices. In a browser-and-app world, you should be able to seamlessly switch devices. The device matters only to provide access to data and an application. The data lives in the cloud; the application is either a browser or installed app.

Choose a Chromebook when you want a keyboard and a 12" screen. Choose an iPad to maximize mobility. Above all, choose information ecosystems that move data off inherently insecure and fragile devices and into secured, managed cloud systems. "Post-PC" devices matter. But the whole system - Internet, data, applications and devices - matters much more.

Chromebook mysterious turn into bricks

Photo(Jim Hood @ ConsumerAffairs) Beautiful but faithless (the laptop not the dog) The Google Chromebook has been making friends and influencing people but a recent problem has rendered many of the machines temporarily unusable, sending their owners into orbit.

"I'm going to miss this Pixel after I send it back," fumed Business Insider columnist Julie Bort yesterday. Her $1,500 Chrombook Pixel had displayed the same weird sign-on problem as mine and an unknown number of others have done over the past few weeks.

The issue, which seems to be a so-far unidentified bug, occurs when a Chromebook user tries to sign on in an area where there is no wi-fi. Normally, the machines -- which operate totally in the cloud -- use your Google ID to sign on. No wi-fi, no Google sign-on.

When things are working properly, you are still able to log onto the machine and work with any files you may have saved locally. But users who have encountered this bug have been completely out of luck.

4G backup is no help

Pixel owners -- who paid $1,500 for their machines, about the same as a MacBook Pro -- also have Verizon 4G built into the laptops, for use when there is no wi-fi network.

But guess what. In my case, I tried to boot up while on a Southwest Airlines flight last week. For whatever reason, the wi-fi wasn't working on that flight. No problem, I thought. When we get to Chicago, where I had a two-hour connection layover, I expected to log in there and get caught up.

Instead, once at Midway, I was unable to get onto the machine at all, using either wi-fi or Verizon. Two hours of frustration. I turned on wi-fi sharing on my Verizon droid but the Pixel stubbornly refused to see it. Since I couldn't log on, I couldn't choose a new network. Catch-22.

Finally, we clambered on board the next leg of the flight and I watched, seething, as other passengers logged in and went to work, while I persued the useless products advertised in a dog-eared copy of Sky Mall.

It wasn't until I got to my destination and walked into the office where there was a wi-fi signal that my Chromebook had memorized on an earlier trip that I was once again in touch with the world. (You wondered why your copy of the Daily Consumer was late last week? Now you know.)

Other owners grouse

After catching up on my work, I went online and found others complaining of the same problem on the Chromebook online forum, which is Google's notion of customer service.

"It is quite frustrating. I write and often have deadlines to meet and time-sensitive data to share. I recently found myself stuck at a truck stop and was thus forced to pay to get online in order to access my chromebook," said a user called MBP.

You think you can call or email Chromebook tech support? Hah. Just try it. Instead you have to go into the Chromebook Central forum and wade through endless discussions ranging from profound to moronic. There are moderators of some sort and one claimed that the issue had been fixed:

"The bug that I have been following has been marked Fixed as of Oct 14:  Issue # 295245,  Offline signin sometimes doesn't work (user OAuth token state is reported as invalid)," said Lynn McCarthy on Oct. 29, the same day my problem occurred, which indicated to me that indeed it had not been fixed. 

Unable to get any help from other users who were as frustrated as I was, I called Verizon Wireless, where a very helpful fellow said he had heard similar complaints from other Pixel users. He suggested -- but stressed that he did not know for certain since he was not a Google rep -- that it's best to sign in as "guest" and disable either wi-fi or 4G before proceeding. He suggested always keeping one or the other disabled. 

Whether this is dead-on accurate or not, it has worked so far. I now routinely keep 4G turned off unless I know I will need it. I then turn off wi-fi. So far the problem has not recurred but who knows when it will pop up again?

Two things are more than a little annoying about this solution --

1. One big reason I got the Pixel was that I liked the idea of having a 4G alternative that would kick in automatically when there was no wi-fi. I quickly burned through the "free" amount of bandwidth provided with the Pixel purchase and now shell out $20 a month to Verizon for access.

2. Anyone who charges $1,500 for a laptop should at least answer emails, if not provide telephone support. Google seems to think it is above such mundane concerns as it floats above us in the cloud but if it wants to make a splash in the hardware business with Google Glass, Motorola Smartphones and its various tablets, laptops and so forth, it is going to eventually have to recognize that it owes its consumers a little more than an online forum populated by other irritated customers.

Does Google really think Verizon will routinely bail out Google's hardware customers?

Other issues

This fiasco is not the only Pixel eccentricity that has raised my blood pressure lately. If we assume that most people who spend $1,500 on a laptop are using it for work and not just to watch movies and do dumb things on Facebook, a few other things need to be attended to:

1. Images. My work involves capturing and editing images. This is easily done with Photoshop, GIMP and iPhoto but, of course, the Chromebook won't run any of these. Instead, there are a few anemic apps like SumoPaint and Pixr, which are totally inadequate for anything even remotely resembling professional use.

PhotoDecent little program. Too bad the ads take up so much workspace.

2. Multiple accounts. Anyone who has more than one Google account -- and who doesn't? -- will be endlessly frustrated with the Chromebook. On any other machine, you can be jhood in Chrome, jim.hood in Firefox and johndoe in Explorer or Opera. With the Chromebook, you're stuck with Chrome, which can involve endless rounds of logging in and out of various user accounts. Yeah sure, you can have multiple accounts open but not all Google applications support multiple accounts. 

3. Printing. The Chromebook will not talk directly to a printer. You must use something called Google CloudPrint, which works only with certain printers of very recent vintage. Yes, I know you can save your boarding pass as a PDF file, email or share it with someone whose machine is connected to a printer, etc., etc., but even the dumbest Windows machine will pretty quickly establish a relationship with nearly any printer you plug into it. I understand why the Chromebook doesn't do that (no drivers) but, quite honestly, it's not my problem -- it's Google's.

That's because the Chromebook Pixel and I are done. Kaput. I need a machine that will go with me on my travels and work when I need it to. For now, that means I'll be heading back to my Asus laptop running Linux Mint but will be making a stop at the nearest Apple store as soon as it's convenient.

Cloud Cost Compare Amazon VS Self Host by Charlie Oppenheimer Gigaon

Amazon Web Services (AWS), as the trailblazing provider of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), has changed the dialog about computing infrastructure. Today, instead of simply assuming that you’ll be buying and operating your own servers, storage and networking, AWS is always an option to consider, and for many new businesses, it’s simply the default choice.

I’m a huge fan of cloud computing in general and AWS in particular. But I’ve long had an instinct that the economics of the choice between self-hosted and cloud provider had more texture to it than the patently attractive sounding “10 cents an hour,” particularly as a function of demand distribution. As a case in point, Zynga has made it known that for economic reasons, they now use their own infrastructure for baseline loads and use Amazon for peaks and variable loads surrounding new game introductions.

An analysis of the load profiles

To tease out a more nuanced view of the economics, I’ve built a detailed Excel model that analyzes the relative costs and sensitivities of AWS versus self-hosted in the context of different load profiles. By “load profiles,” I mean the distribution of demand over the day/month as well as relative needs for bandwidth versus compute resources. The load profile is the key factor influencing the economic choice because it determines what resources are required and how heavily these resources are utilized.

The model provides a simple way to analyze various load profiles and allows one to skew the load between bandwidth-heavy, compute-heavy or any combination. In addition, the model presents the cost of operating 100 percent on AWS, 100 percent self-hosted as well as all hybrid mixes in between.

In a subsequent post, I will share the model and describe how you can use it for scenarios of interest to you. But for this post, I will outline some of the conclusions that I’ve derived from looking at many different scenarios. In most cases, the analysis illustrates why intuition is right (for example, that a highly variable compute load is a slam dunk for AWS). In other cases, certain high-sensitivity factors become evident and drive the economic answer. There are also cases where a hybrid infrastructure is at least worthy of consideration.

To frame an example analysis, here is the daily distribution of a typical Internet application. In the model, traffic distribution is an input from which bandwidth requirements are computed. The distribution over the day reflects the behavior of the user base (in this case, one with a high U.S. business-hour activity peak). Computing load is assumed to follow traffic according to a linear relationship, i.e. higher traffic implies higher compute load.

Note that while labor costs are included in the model, I am leaving them out of this example for simplicity. Because labor is a mostly fixed cost for each alternative, it will tend not to impact the relative comparison of the two alternatives. Rather, it will impact where the actual break-even point lies. If you use the model to examine your own situation, then of course I would recommend including the labor costs on each side.

For this example, to compute costs for Amazon, I have assumed Standard Extra Large instances and ELB load balancer for the Northern California region. The model computes the number of instances required for each hour of the day. Whenever the economics dictate it, the model applies as many AWS Reserved Instances (capacity contracts with lower variable costs) as justified and fills in with on-demand instances as required. Charges for data are computed according to the progressive pricing schedule that Amazon publishes. To compute costs for self-hosting, I assume co-location with the peak number of Std-XL-equivalent servers required, each loaded to no more than 80 percent of capacity. The costs of hardware are amortized over 36 months. Power is assumed to be included with rackspace fees. Bandwidth is assumed to be obtained on a 95th percentile price basis.

Now let’s look at a sensitivity analysis. Notice in the above example, that a bit more than half of the total cost for each alternative is for bandwidth/data transfer charges ($35,144 for self-hosted at $8/Mbps and $36,900 for AWS). This is important because while Amazon pricing is fixed and published, 95th percentile pricing is highly variable and competitive

The chart above shows total costs as a function of co-location bandwidth pricing. AWS costs are independent of this and thus flat. What this chart shows is that self-hosting costs less for any bandwidth pricing under about $9.50 per Mbps/Month. And if you can negotiate a price as low as $4, you’d be saving more than 40 percent to self-host. I’ll leave discussion of the hybrid to another post.

This should provide a bit of a feel for how I’ve been conducting these analyses. Above is a visual summary of how different scenarios tend to shake out. The intuitive conclusion that the more spiky the load, the better the economics of the AWS on-demand solution is confirmed. And similarly, the flatter or less variable the load distribution, the more self-hosting appears to make sense. And if you’ve got a situation that uses a lot of bandwidth, you need to look more closely at potential self-hosted savings that could be feasible with negotiated bandwidth reductions.

Colorbox Beginner's Guide

A tutorial for first-time jQuery users.

Users familiar with jQuery will be better served viewing source on the demo page and using that as a guide.

Colorbox is a jQuery plugin, meaning that it extends the jQuery JavaScript library to include extra functionality. In your HTML document, you must include the jQuery library's source before you include the source of any jQuery plugin. Colorbox has the additional requirement that you include its stylesheet in the <head> of your document before you include the source of the plugin.

Here is an example HTML5 document with the required files:

<!doctype html>
        <link rel="stylesheet" href="colorbox.css" />
        <script src="jquery.min.js"></script>
        <script src="jquery.colorbox-min.js"></script>
        <a class='gallery' href='image1.jpg'>Photo_1</a>
        <a class='gallery' href='image2.jpg'>Photo_2</a>
        <a class='gallery' href='image3.jpg'>Photo_3</a>

Let's use Colorbox to display the links that have a class of 'gallery'. We will use jQuery to query the DOM to find the matching links, then apply the colorbox method to them:


Here, the jQuery() function takes in the CSS selector and queries the DOM for matching elements. It returns a collection of elements, which we then apply colorbox to by calling jQuery's .colorbox() method.

A browser parses your HTML document from top to bottom. When a browser encounters a <script> block, it will stop parsing your HTML document and execute the script. The browser will resume parsing your document once the script has executed. This means if you use a <script> in the <head> of your document to assign Colorbox to links in your document, the script will be executed before the markup of those links have been parsed and added to the DOM. Those links must be in the DOM before colorbox can be assigned to them. Inserting the <script> after the markup for the links insures that the links will be in the DOM when we query for them:

<!doctype html>
        <link rel="stylesheet" href="colorbox.css" />
        <script src="jquery.min.js"></script>
        <script src="jquery.colorbox-min.js"></script>
        <a class='gallery' href='image1.jpg'>Photo_1</a>
        <a class='gallery' href='image2.jpg'>Photo_2</a>
        <a class='gallery' href='image3.jpg'>Photo_3</a>

An alternative to placing this <script> at the bottom of the document would be to use jQuery's .ready() method. This method takes in a callback function that will be executed once the DOM has finished loading.

Lastly, the .colorbox() method accepts an optional settings object that overwrites the default settings that control colorbox's behavior. The settings object is made up of a comma-separated list of name:value pairs in between an opening and closing curly bracket. Example:

{ opacity:0.5 , rel:'group1' }

Here is the .ready() method and Colorbox settings object applied to our example document:

<!doctype html>
        <link rel="stylesheet" href="colorbox.css" />
        <script src="jquery.min.js"></script>
        <script src="jquery.colorbox-min.js"></script>
            jQuery(document).ready(function () {
                jQuery('').colorbox({ opacity:0.5 , rel:'group1' });
        <a class='gallery' href='image1.jpg'>Photo_1</a>
        <a class='gallery' href='image2.jpg'>Photo_2</a>
        <a class='gallery' href='image3.jpg'>Photo_3</a>


  • Supports photos, grouping, slideshow, ajax, inline, and iframed content.
  • Lightweight: 10KB of JavaScript (less than 5KBs gzipped).
  • Appearance is controlled through CSS so it can be restyled.
  • Can be extended with callbacks & event-hooks without altering the source files.
  • Completely unobtrusive, options are set in the JS and require no changes to existing HTML.
  • Preloads upcoming images in a photo group.
  • Well vetted and currently in use in over 600,000 websites.

Instructions & Help

The FAQ has instructions on asking for help, solutions to common problems, and how-to examples. First-time jQuery users can check out the Colorbox Beginner's Guide. Intermediate users can probably glean everything needed by view-source'ing the demo pages.


Colorbox accepts settings from an object of key/value pairs, and can be assigned to any HTML element.

// Format:
$(selector).colorbox({key:value, key:value, key:value});
// Examples:
// Image links displayed as a group

// Ajax

// Called directly, without assignment to an element:

// Called directly with HTML

// Colorbox can accept a function in place of a static value:
$("").colorbox({rel: 'gal', title: function(){
  var url = $(this).attr('href');
  return '<a href="' + url + '" target="_blank">Open In New Window</a>';


Property Default Description
transition "elastic" The transition type. Can be set to "elastic", "fade", or "none".
speed 350 Sets the speed of the fade and elastic transitions, in milliseconds.
href false This can be used as an alternative anchor URL or to associate a URL for non-anchor elements such as images or form buttons. $("h1").colorbox({href:"welcome.html"});
title false This can be used as an anchor title alternative for Colorbox.
rel false This can be used as an anchor rel alternative for Colorbox. This allows the user to group any combination of elements together for a gallery, or to override an existing rel so elements are not grouped together. $("").colorbox({rel:"group1"}); Note: The value can also be set to 'nofollow' to disable grouping.
scalePhotos true If true, and if maxWidth, maxHeight, innerWidth, innerHeight, width, or height have been defined, Colorbox will scale photos to fit within the those values.
scrolling true If false, Colorbox will hide scrollbars for overflowing content. This could be used on conjunction with the resize method (see below) for a smoother transition if you are appending content to an already open instance of Colorbox.
opacity 0.85 The overlay opacity level. Range: 0 to 1.
open false If true, Colorbox will immediately open.
returnFocus true If true, focus will be returned when Colorbox exits to the element it was launched from.
trapFocus true If true, keyboard focus will be limited to Colorbox's navigation and content.
fastIframe true If false, the loading graphic removal and onComplete event will be delayed until iframe's content has completely loaded.
preloading true Allows for preloading of 'Next' and 'Previous' content in a group, after the current content has finished loading. Set to false to disable.
overlayClose true If false, disables closing Colorbox by clicking on the background overlay.
escKey true If false, will disable closing colorbox on 'esc' key press.
arrowKey true If false, will disable the left and right arrow keys from navigating between the items in a group.
loop true If false, will disable the ability to loop back to the beginning of the group when on the last element.
data false For submitting GET or POST values through an ajax request. The data property will act exactly like jQuery's .load() data argument, as Colorbox uses .load() for ajax handling.
className false Adds a given class to colorbox and the overlay.
fadeOut 300 Sets the fadeOut speed, in milliseconds, when closing Colorbox.
closeButton true Set to false to remove the close button.
current "image {current} of {total}" Text or HTML for the group counter while viewing a group. {current} and {total} are detected and replaced with actual numbers while Colorbox runs.
previous "previous" Text or HTML for the previous button while viewing a group.
next "next" Text or HTML for the next button while viewing a group.
close "close" Text or HTML for the close button. The 'esc' key will also close Colorbox.
xhrError "This content failed to load." Error message given when ajax content for a given URL cannot be loaded.
imgError "This image failed to load." Error message given when a link to an image fails to load.
Content Type    
iframe false If true, specifies that content should be displayed in an iFrame.
inline false

If true, content from the current document can be displayed by passing the href property a jQuery selector, or jQuery object.

// Using a selector:
$("#inline").colorbox({inline:true, href:"#myForm"});

// Using a jQuery object:
var $form = $("#myForm");
$("#inline").colorbox({inline:true, href:$form});
html false For displaying a string of HTML or text: $.colorbox({html:"<p>Hello</p>"});
photo false If true, this setting forces Colorbox to display a link as a photo. Use this when automatic photo detection fails (such as using a url like 'photo.php' instead of 'photo.jpg')
ajax   This property isn't actually used as Colorbox assumes all hrefs should be treated as either ajax or photos, unless one of the other content types were specified.
width false Set a fixed total width. This includes borders and buttons. Example: "100%", "500px", or 500
height false Set a fixed total height. This includes borders and buttons. Example: "100%", "500px", or 500
innerWidth false This is an alternative to 'width' used to set a fixed inner width. This excludes borders and buttons. Example: "50%", "500px", or 500
innerHeight false This is an alternative to 'height' used to set a fixed inner height. This excludes borders and buttons. Example: "50%", "500px", or 500
initialWidth 300 Set the initial width, prior to any content being loaded.
initialHeight 100 Set the initial height, prior to any content being loaded.
maxWidth false Set a maximum width for loaded content. Example: "100%", 500, "500px"
maxHeight false Set a maximum height for loaded content. Example: "100%", 500, "500px"
slideshow false If true, adds an automatic slideshow to a content group / gallery.
slideshowSpeed 2500 Sets the speed of the slideshow, in milliseconds.
slideshowAuto true If true, the slideshow will automatically start to play.
slideshowStart "start slideshow" Text for the slideshow start button.
slideshowStop "stop slideshow" Text for the slideshow stop button
fixed false If true, Colorbox will be displayed in a fixed position within the visitor's viewport. This is unlike the default absolute positioning relative to the document.
top false Accepts a pixel or percent value (50, "50px", "10%"). Controls Colorbox's vertical positioning instead of using the default position of being centered in the viewport.
bottom false Accepts a pixel or percent value (50, "50px", "10%"). Controls Colorbox's vertical positioning instead of using the default position of being centered in the viewport.
left false Accepts a pixel or percent value (50, "50px", "10%"). Controls Colorbox's horizontal positioning instead of using the default position of being centered in the viewport.
right false Accepts a pixel or percent value (50, "50px", "10%"). Controls Colorbox's horizontal positioning instead of using the default position of being centered in the viewport.
reposition true Repositions Colorbox if the window's resize event is fired.
Retina Images    
retinaImage false If true, Colorbox will scale down the current photo to match the screen's pixel ratio
retinaUrl false If true and the device has a high resolution display, Colorbox will replace the current photo's file extention with the retinaSuffix+extension
retinaSuffix "@2x.$1" If retinaUrl is true and the device has a high resolution display, the href value will have it's extention extended with this suffix. For example, the default value would change `my-photo.jpg` to `my-photo@2x.jpg`
onOpen false Callback that fires right before Colorbox begins to open.
onLoad false Callback that fires right before attempting to load the target content.
onComplete false Callback that fires right after loaded content is displayed.
onCleanup false Callback that fires at the start of the close process.
onClosed false Callback that fires once Colorbox is closed.

Public Methods

$.colorbox() This method allows you to call Colorbox without having to assign it to an element. '$.colorbox({href:"login.php"});
These methods moves to the next and previous items in a group and are the same as pressing the 'next' or 'previous' buttons.
$.colorbox.close() This method initiates the close sequence, which does not immediately complete. The lightbox will be completely closed only when the cbox_closed event / onClosed callback is fired.
$.colorbox.element() This method is used to fetch the current HTML element that Colorbox is associated with. Returns a jQuery object containing the element. var $element = $.colorbox.element();
$.colorbox.resize() This allows Colorbox to be resized based on it's own auto-calculations, or to a specific size. This must be called manually after Colorbox's content has loaded. The optional parameters object can accept width or innerWidth and height or innerHeight. Without specifying a width or height, Colorbox will attempt to recalculate the height of it's current content.
$.colorbox.remove() Removes all traces of Colorbox from the document. Not the same as $.colorbox.close(), which tucks colorbox away for future use.

Event Hooks

These event hooks fire at the same time as their corresponding callbacks (ie. cbox_complete & onComplete), but can be used to make a universal change to Colorbox, while callbacks are only applied to selected elements.

// Example of using an event listener and public method to build a primitive slideshow: $(document).bind('cbox_complete', function(){ setTimeout($, 1500); });

cbox_open triggers when Colorbox is first opened, but after a few key variable assignments take place.
cbox_load triggers at the start of the phase where content type is determined and loaded.
cbox_complete triggers when the transition has completed and the newly loaded content has been revealed.
cbox_cleanup triggers as the close method begins.
cbox_closed triggers as the close method ends.

Comcast Building a Nationwide WiFI Network

Photo(Jim Hood @ ConsumerAffairs) Those cable companies are sneaky, all right. They're always trying to put one over on us. Take Comcast. It's not content just to buy NBC and Time Warner, now it's setting up little neighborhood wi-fi networks in places you'd never imagine.

Like your back yard.

Yep, big bad Comcast has been quietly bringing wireless broadband to neighborhoods all over America. Besides providing a private, password-protected network inside your home, the company's newest Xfinity routers automatically set up a second wi-fi network -- wide open and available for anyone within range.

Comcast Internet Service  March 5, 2014, 8:32 p.m.Consumers rate Comcast Internet Service

The company emphasizes that these are two separate networks. What goes on on the second public network won't affect your download speeds or impinge on your privacy in any way. 

"They'll look like two separate networks and they'll act like two separate networks," said Tom Nagel, who heads the Xfinity Wi-Fi initiative for Comcast, according to The Chicago Tribune. "Any use on the public side doesn't impact the private side."

Tipping point

The program has been conducted quietly so far in test markets around the country but Comcast has gone public in Chicago, which local boosters say could be the tipping point for making Comcast the biggest national operator of neighborhood wi-fi networks.

Demand for wi-fi has been steadily growing as smartphone and tablet users look for a cheaper alternative to costly cellphone broadband networks. Deploying cheap or even free wi-fi is a way for the cable companies to put a dent in Verizon, AT&T and Sprint and building the basis for customer loyalty programs. 

The neighborhood networks are free to Xfinity subscribers. Nonsubscribers will get two free hours a month; beyond that, they can access Xfinity Wi-Fi on a per-use basis. Rates run from $2.95 per hour to $19.95 per week, according to Comcast.

Travel freely

Xfinity subscribers will be able to travel freely without having to log in and out as they move from one hot spot to another, so that in time the network may grow to rival the cellular telephone networks, which are much more expensive to build and maintain.

Comcast has said it is closing in on having 1 million hot spots nationwide. Best of all, from Comcast's standpoint, is that the build-out is virtually free. The consumer provides the electricity for the router and the circuit already exists, so the only capital expense is the router. 

Slick, no?


Command Line Copy text to the Windows clipboard

Too bad highlighting the text and a right mouse click doesn’t work. But if you work with command line a lot, there is a way, and this is how we do it:

  1. Right click on the command window's title bar and click Properties.
  2. Click the Options tab.
  3. Check the box that says "QuickEdit Mode" on the right side of the dialog box.
  4. Now you can left click within the command window and drag a box around the text that you want to select.
  5. Right click anywhere in the window or just press Enter to copy the text to the clipboard.
  6. Paste it into a Windows document in the usual way.

What if you want to go the other way around, and paste content into a command window? When the text is on the clipboard, just right click anywhere inside the window (as long as you aren't in select mode as described in step 4 above.

Computer Security That Experts Wish You Knew

(Annalee Newitz @ GizModo) Every day, you hear about security flaws, viruses, and evil hacker gangs that could leave you destitute — or, worse, bring your country to its knees. But what’s the truth about these digital dangers? We asked computer security experts to separate the myths from the facts. Here’s what they said.

1. Having a strong password actually can prevent most attacks

Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos has spent most of his career finding security vulnerabilities and figuring out how attackers might try to exploit software flaws. He’s seen everything from the most devious hacks to the simplest social engineering scams. And in all that time, he’s found that there are two simple solutions for the vast majority of users: strong passwords and two-factor authentication.

Stamos says that the biggest problem is that the media focuses on stories about the deepest and most complicated hacks, leaving users feeling like there’s nothing they can do to defend themselves. But that’s just not true. He told me via email:

I’ve noticed a lot of nihilism in the media, security industry and general public since the Snowden docs came out. This generally expresses itself as people throwing up their hands and saying “there is nothing we can do to be safe”. While it’s true that there is little most people can do when facing a top-tier intelligence apparatus with the ability to rewrite hard drive firmware, this should not dissuade users from doing what they can to protect themselves from more likely threats and security professionals from building usable protections for realistic adversaries.

Users can protect themselves against the most likely and pernicious threat actors by taking two simple steps:

1) Installing a password manager and using it to create unique passwords for every service they use.

2) Activating second-factor authentication options (usually via text messages) on their email and social networking accounts.

The latter is especially important since attackers love to take over the email and social accounts of millions of people and then automatically use them to pivot to other accounts or to gather data on which accounts belong to high-value targets.

So I would really like the media to stop spreading the idea that just because incredible feats are possible on the high-end of the threat spectrum, doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to keep yourself safe in the vast majority of scenarios.

Adam J. O’Donnell, a Principal Engineer with Cisco’s Advanced Malware Protection group, amplified Stamos’ basic advice:

Oh, and my advice for the average person: Make good backups and test them. Use a password vault and a different password on every website.

Yep, having a good password is easy — and it’s still the best thing you can do.

2. Just because a device is new does not mean it’s safe

When you unwrap the box on your new phone, tablet or laptop, it smells like fresh plastic and the batteries work like a dream. But that doesn’t mean your computer isn’t already infected with malware and riddled with security vulnerabilities.

I heard this from many of the security experts I interviewed. Eleanor Saitta is the technical director for the International Modern Media Institute, and has worked for over a decade advising governments and corporations about computer security issues. She believes that one of the most pernicious myths about security is that devices begin their lives completely safe, but become less secure as time goes on. That’s simply not true, especially when so many devices come with vulnerable adware like Superfish pre-installed on them (if you recall, Superfish came pre-installed on many Lenovo laptop models):

That’s why the Superfish thing was such a big deal. They built a backdoor in, and they built a really bad, incompetent one, and now it turns out that anybody can walk through.

When you’re relying on code delivered by somebody else, a service online or box that you don’t control, chances are good that it’s not acting in your interest, because it’s trying to sell you. There’s a good chance that it’s already owned or compromised by other people. We don’t have a good way of dealing with trust and managing it right now. And all sorts of people will be using that code.

The other issue, which erupted in the media earlier this year with the FREAK attack, is that many machines come pre-installed with backdoors. These are baked in by government request, to make it easier for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to track adversaries. But unfortunately, backdoors are also security vulnerabilities that anyone can take advantage of. Says Saitta:

I think one thing that is really important to understand is that if you built a monitoring system into a network like a cell network, or into a crypto system, anybody can get in there. You’ve built a vulnerability into the system, and sure, you can control access a little. But at the end of the day, a backdoor is a backdoor, and anybody can walk through it.

3. Even the very best software has security vulnerabilities

Many of us imagine that sufficiently good software and networks can be completely safe. Because of this attitude, many users get angry when the machines or services they use turn out to be vulnerable to attack. After all, if we can design a safe car, why not a safe phone? Isn’t it just a matter of getting the tech and science right?

But Parisa Tabriz told me via email that you can’t look at information security that way. Tabriz is the engineer who heads Google’s Chrome security team, and she believes that information security is more like medicine — a bit of art and science — rather than pure science. That’s because our technology was built by humans, and is being exploited by humans with very unscientific motivations. She writes:

I think information security is a lot like medicine — it’s both an art and science. Maybe this is because humans have explicitly built technology and the internet. We assume we should be able to build them perfectly, but the complexity of what we’ve built and now hope to secure almost seems impossible. Securing it would require us to have zero bugs, and that means that the economics are not on the side of the defenders. The defenders have to make sure there are zero bugs in all software they use or write (typically many millions of lines of code if you consider the operating system too), whereas the attacker only has to find one bug.

There will always be bugs in software. Some subset of those bugs will have security impact. The challenge is figuring out which ones to spend resources on fixing, and a lot of that is based on presumed threat models that probably would benefit from more insight into people’s motivations, like crime, monitoring, etc.

RAND Corporation computer security researcher Lillian Ablon emailed me to say that there is simply no such thing as a completely secure system. The goal for defenders is to make attacks expensive, rather than impossible:

With enough resources, there is always a way for an attacker to get in. You may be familiar with the phrase “it’s a matter of when, not if,” in relation to a company getting hacked/breached. Instead, the goal of computer security is to make it expensive for the attackers (in money, time, resources, research, etc.).

4. Every website and app should use HTTPS

You’ve heard every rumor there is to hear about HTTPS. It’s slow. It’s only for websites that need to be ultra-secure. It doesn’t really work. All wrong. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’sPeter Eckersley is a technologist who has been researching the use of HTTPS for several years, and working on the EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere project. He says that there’s a dangerous misconception that many websites and apps don’t need HTTPS. He emailed to expand on that:

Another serious misconception is website operators, such as newspapers or advertising networks, thinking “because we don’t process credit card payments, our site doesn’t need to be HTTPS, or our app doesn’t need to use HTTPS”. All sites on the Web need to be HTTPS, because without HTTPS it’s easy for hackers, eavesdroppers, or government surveillance programs to see exactly what people are reading on your site; what data your app is processing; or even to modify or alter that data in malicious ways.

Eckersley has no corporate affiliations (EFF is a nonprofit), and thus no potential conflict of interest when it comes to promoting HTTPS. He’s just interested in user safety.

5. The cloud is not safe — it just creates new security problems

Everything is cloud these days. You keep your email there, along with your photos, your IMs, your medical records, your bank documents, and even your sex life. And it’s actually safer there than you might think. But it creates new security problems you might not have thought about. Security engineer Leigh Honeywell works for a large cloud computing company, and emailed me to explain how the cloud really works. She suggests that you begin thinking about it using a familiar physical metaphor:

Your house is your house, and you know exactly what the security precautions you’ve taken against intruders are - and what the tradeoffs are. Do you have a deadbolt? An alarm system? Are there bars on the windows, or did you decide against those because they would interfere with your decor?

Or do you live in an apartment building where some of those things are managed for you? Maybe there’s a front desk security person, or a key-card access per floor. I once lived in a building where you had to use your card to access individual floors on the elevator! It was pretty annoying, but it was definitely more secure. The security guard will get to know the movement patterns of the residents, will potentially (though not always, of course!) recognize intruders. They have more data than any individual homeowner.

Putting your data in the cloud is sort of like living in that secure apartment building. Except weirder. Honeywell continued:

Cloud services are able to correlate data across their customers, not just look at the ways an individual is being targeted. You may not [control access to the place where] your data is being stored, but there’s someone at the front desk of that building 24/7, and they’re watching the logs and usage patterns as well. It’s a bit like herd immunity. A lot of stuff jumps out at [a defender] immediately: here’s a single IP address logging into a bunch of different accounts, in a completely different country than any of those accounts have been logged into from ever before. Oh, and each of those accounts received a particular file yesterday — maybe that file was malicious, and all of those accounts just got broken into?

But if it’s a more targeted attack, the signs will be more subtle. When you’re trying to defend a cloud system, you’re looking for needles in haystacks, because you just have so much data to handle. There’s lots of hype about “big data” and machine learning right now, but we’re just starting to scratch the surface of finding attackers’ subtle footprints. A skilled attacker will know how to move quietly and not set off the pattern detection systems you put in place.

In other words, some automated attack methods become blatantly obvious in a cloud system. But it also becomes easier to hide. Honeywell says that users need to consider the threats they’re seriously worried about when choosing between a cloud service and a home server:

Cloud services are much more complex systems than, say, a hard drive plugged into your computer, or an email server running in your closet. There are more places that things can go wrong, more moving parts. But there are more people maintaining them too. The question folks should ask themselves is: would I be doing a better job running this myself, or letting someone with more time, money, and expertise do it? Who do you think of when you think about being hacked — is it the NSA, random gamer assholes, an abusive ex-partner? I ran my own email server for many years, and eventually switched to a hosted service. I know folks who work on Gmail and and they do a vastly better job at running email servers than I ever did. There’s also the time tradeoff — running an email server is miserable work! But for some people it’s worth it, though, because NSA surveillance really is something they have worry about.

6. Software updates are crucial for your protection

There are few things more annoying in life than the little pop-up that reminds you that updates are required. Often you have to plug your device in, and the updates can take a really long time. But they are often the only thing that stands between you and being owned up by a bad guy. Cisco’s O’Donnell said:

Those software update messages are [not] there just to annoy you: The frequency of software updates is driven less by new software features and more because of some very obscure software flaw that an attacker can exploit to gain control of your system. These software patches fix issues that were publicly identified and likely used in attacks in the wild. You wouldn’t go for days without cleaning and bandaging a festering wound on your arm, would you? Don’t do that to your computer.

7. Hackers are not criminals

Despite decades of evidence to the contrary, most people think of hackers as the evil adversaries who want nothing more than to steal their digital goods. But hackers can wear white hats as well as black ones — and the white hats break into systems in order to get there before the bad guys do. Once the vulnerabilities have been identified by hackers, they can be patched. Google Chrome’s Tabriz says simply:

Also, hackers are not criminals. Just because someone knows how to break something, doesn’t mean they will use that knowledge to hurt people. A lot of hackers make things more secure.

O’Donnell emphasizes that we need hackers because software alone can’t protect you. Yes, antivirus programs are a good start. But in the end you need security experts like hackers to defend against adversaries who are, after all, human beings:

Security is less about building walls and more about enabling security guards. Defensive tools alone can’t stop a dedicated, well resourced attacker. If someone wants in bad enough, they will buy every security tool the target may have and test their attacks against their simulated version of the target’s network. Combatting this requires not just good tools but good people who know how to use the tools.

RAND’s Ablon adds that malicious hackers are rarely the threat they are cracked up to be. Instead, the threat may come from people you don’t suspect — and their motivations may be far more complicated than mere theft:

A lot of the time an internal employee or insider is just as big of a threat, and could bring a business to its knees – intentionally or inadvertently. Furthermore, there are distinct types of external cyber threat actors (cybercriminals, state-sponsored, hacktivists) with different motivations and capabilities. For example, the cybercriminals who hacked into Target and Anthem had very different motivations, capabilities, etc. than those of the state-sponsored actors who hacked into Sony Pictures Entertainment.

8. Cyberattacks and cyberterrorism are exceedingly rare

As many of the experts I talked to said, your biggest threat is somebody breaking into your accounts because you have a crappy password. But that doesn’t stop people from freaking out with fear over “cyberattacks” that are deadly. Ablon says that these kinds of attacks are incredibly unlikely:

Yes, there are ways to hack into a vehicle from anywhere in the world; yes, life-critical medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps often have IP addresses or are enabled with Bluetooth – but often these types of attacks require close access, and exploits that are fairly sophisticated requiring time to develop and implement. That said, we shouldn’t be ignoring the millions of connected devices (Internet of Things) that increase our attack surface.

Basically, many people fear cyberattacks for the same reason they fear serial killers. They are the scariest possible threat. But they are also the least likely.

As for cyberterrorism, Ablon writes simply, “Cyberterrorism (to date) does not exist ... what is attributed to cyberterrorism today, is more akin to hacktivism, e.g., gaining access to CENTCOM’s Twitter feed and posting ISIS propaganda.”

9. Darknet and Deepweb are not the same thing

Ablon writes that one of the main problems she has with media coverage of cybercrime is the misuse of the terms “Darknet” and “Deepweb.”

She explains what the terms really mean:

The Deepweb refers to part of the Internet, specifically the world wide web (so anything that starts www) that isn’t indexed by search engines, so can’t be accessed by Google. The Darknet refers to non-”www” networks, where users may need separate software to access them. For example, Silk Road and many illicit markets are hosted on [Darknet] networks like I2P and Tor.

So get a password vault, use two-factor auth, visit only sites that use HTTPS, and stop worrying about super intricate cyber attacks from the Darknet. And remember, hackers are here to protect you — most of the time, anyway.

Computer Use Can Harm Your Health

A digital malady called “iPad shoulder” joins computer vision syndrome, BlackBerry thumb and E-thrombosis on the list of odd—and often painful—disorders afflicting our increasingly wired society.

In a new study, researchers at Harvard’s School of Public Health report that the millions of Americans who use tablet computers, such as the iPad, risk shoulder and neck injuries because of the way they hold the high-tech devices. In the study, 15 experienced users performed a range of simulated tasks on an iPad 2 and Motorala Xoom while their postures were analyzed with a 3-D motion analysis system.

While using the tablets, the volunteers bent their necks more, compared to using a desktop or laptop device, especially when the tablet was in their lap. That hunched posture strains the neck and shoulders, the researchers say. They advise tablet devotees to change positions every 15 minutes, move their neck around to release tension, and to use a case to prop the iPad at the preferred angle of 30 degrees.

Use these seven simple tips to manage chronic pain.

Read More - Click Here

Computer/Television Convergence Debate

'When we talk of convergence between computers and television, we need to be careful to specify what we mean.  In the case of this debate, we specifically mean the convergence of television and computers, both the media and the devices.  To that end the debate will center around two main issues:

The unique thing about television is that television is both a medium and a transmission system.  That is to say that television is used to refer to the screen that you watch, as well as what you see on that screen.  The Internet on the other hand is a system for transmitting bits, and is different from the device which receives those bits, the computer.  For this debate we will consider the content of the Internet to be primarily World Wide Web style content and an extension thereof.  In other words, you will have multimedia pages with dynamic content including audio and video clips.

So, when we say that the media will converge, we mean that current television shows will merge into a hybrid with World Wide Web style content.  Television shows will have other types of media like text merged into them, and World Wide Web pages will begin to be temporal entities that tell a story.  Another way of looking at this is that both your television and your computer will be running a similar super browser which will allow the same content to be viewed on both devices.  Also, to say that the two converge it is not enough to say that you will be able to watch television on your computer-- that merely means that television content is a sub-set of computer content and is already possible today.  For the two to truly converge the content that can be received by both devices should be the same.

When we say that the media will not converge, we mean that television shows and world wide web content will remain distinct media forms, and that you will use your television for watching television shows, and your computer to view and browse web content.  While both media types may have evolved, they will remain different from one another.

The second topic for the debate will be that the computers and televisions as devices will merge.  In this case the argument is that sometime in the future there won't be \"televisions\" and \"computers\", but some new device that encapsulates the behavior of both.  This \"viewer\" will come in different sizes and shapes, but will be thought of as one item, just like little TVs and big TVs in people's minds are considered one type of device.  While you may be more inclined to use the \"viewer\" on your desk to browse the web, and the \"viewer\" in the home theater to watch movies, you would be willing to do either task on either device.  In other words, if you were at your desk working on a \"viewer\" and a friend called up telling you to check out a show, you would just switch the \"viewer\" to that show, rather than going into another room to find a \"TV viewer\".

Non-convergence in this case is the argument that, while TVs may take on some computer-like functionality and vice versa, fundamentally the two will be thought of as different devices.  Doing research and browsing the web will be done on a computer, and watching shows and movies will be done on a television.

  1. Computers and Televisions will be able to display the same media:
  2. People will cease distinguishing between computers and televisions:

Finally, it is important to make one final point on the debate framework.  There are always extreme points in the adoption of technology.  Since there is no technical reason why a television can't have the same functionality as a computer, or vice versa, it is quite likely that both computer powered TVs and computers that can display television will be around in the future.  In fact even today the Gateway 2000 Destination series is a computer powered TV and computers can have TV boards and are able to watch television content.  There will certainly be some small number of people that adopt this technology.  On the other hand there will also be some people that will keep their 1968 television and just add a DTV decoder box.  Neither of these extremes are very interesting.

On account of this, the debate will center around what functionality the majority of televisions and computers will have, and what types of media will be broadcast for a majority of broadcast hours.  The main question we consider is whether televisions and computers will come to be more similar on average as time goes on, or whether they will evolve along mostly independent paths.

The Argument for Convergence

Media Convergence:

In order for the media to converge, two main things need to occur.  First, computers and televisions must be able to be content interchangeable.  That is, computers must be able to view and use television content, and televisions must be able to view and receieve Internet content.  Second, people must be sufficiently interested in being able to view the same content on both device to make implementation of this interoperability commercially viable.  The two are clearly interrelated, since the amount of interest in interoperability people have determines how much they are willing to pay for that functionality.
Before determining whether it is possible to make television and computers interoperable, we need a list of what sorts of content both can, or will be able to receive.  To start, here is a list of some of the content we might see on both the web and digital television in the future:

  • Television Content:
    • Television shows
    • Movies
    • Commercials
  • World Wide Web Content:
    • Media presentations (scripted presentations of various media objects including text, 3-D graphics, audio and video)
    • Games (non-scripted temporal presenation of various media objects with which the user/viewer can interact)
    • Information blocks (collections of media objects through which the user/viewer can browse)

The Computer

It is easiest to first answer the question of whether a computer will be able to receive television content.  The types of content that are broadcast over television currently, and will continue to be broadcast if the two media do not converge, are audio/video streams.  Since the computer media already includes audio and video streams, it should be able to decode the streams with no extra equipment.  The possible exception to this is the addition of a tuner card to decode the analog signal into the digital stream, but this should be of marginal additional cost considering the cost of purchasing a computer.
So, a computer will be able to receive television content for little extra cost.  Since the cost difference between a machine with this capability and a machine without this capability will be low, even if there is little consumer interest in this, machines will still come with this capability.

The Television

The more difficult question is whether a television will be able to display world wide web content.  It is pretty clear that you can put enough hardware into a television to make it able to display the media that a computer can display.  Essentially you would need to add a reasonable sized hard disk, some memory, and a fairly fast general purpose processor.  How much would this add to the cost of the television?  I will guess at the prices of items six years from now if they are shipping in large quanties.

From 1994 to 1997 1 Gig drives fell from $1000 to $100, 1/10 the cost in three years.  A 10 Gig drive is now $300, so in six years it should be $3.  I am allowing for some parts cost which may not change based on drive capacity and saying $10.

From 1992 to 1998 1 MB of memory fell from $30 to $1, a 30-fold decrease in six years.  A megabyte of RAM should cost 1/30 of $1 in 6 years, or a little more than 3 cents

This one I am guessing on, but fast 3D chips run around $20 today, so I am guessing a reasonably fast processor (as fast as the fastest of todays processors) won't cost more than $20.  If you can get a 486/66 for $20 today this seems reasonable.

  • 10 Gig hard drive - $10
  • 64 MB Memory - $ 2
  • Fast Processor (including 3D processor) - $20

The total additional cost to televisions shipping in quantity to make them fast enough to read computer content would then be about $50.

The question to answer now is whether the average consumer would be willing to pay $50 extra for this functionality.  If so, then broadcasters would be likely to merge the content, and manufacturers to include the extra functionality.

This is a difficult question to answer without actually trying out the system with a test group.  In the past interactive TV trials where more robust media and interactivity is included in the television have been a failure (ie. Time Warner's Orlando test-bed).  The difference now is that the new television screens will have sufficient resolution to display text based materials without being blurry and out of focus.  What specifically might people be interested in doing on these new improved systems?

  • Advanced Commercials:  Broadcasters could send six commercial streams during commercial breaks of HDTV shows, and the viewer could determine which one to watch.  A 'X' on the remote could be hit to kill a commercial, or another could be hit to indicate it is somewhat interesting.  Over time the set could build up a preference profile allowing users to see the commercials they most prefer (or least hate).  If hypertext is included with each commercial, people could browse through downloaded information instead of watching more commercials.  The hard disk could also be used to buffer the show so you wouldn't miss anything if you were browsing.  This would be a more interesting model for commercials for viewers, advertisers and broadcasters.
  • A Movie Previews Channel: One channel of a station (or sub-stream) could be a movie channel which downloads HTML like content with information on various movies in theaters including reviews, local show times, and trailers.  By clicking on a trailer you could watch the trailer in all of its glory in your home theater.
  • A News Channel: Instead of having an anchor cycle through stories continuously, a continually updated news web site could be broadcast on one channel.  It could have local, national and international stories as well as traffic and weather updates.  Given stories can have the full video clip story (live or delayed), as well as background text and photos for those interested in more in depth information.  This could also be received in your car to get traffic reports which could be read to you based on your cars current location.

There are many other possibilities including much enhanced travelogue, home improvement and cooking shows.  Is this worth $50 more in initial investment for the average consumer though?  If the TV is kept for 5 years, the cost is less than $1 per month, which seems like something any consumer would be willing to pay for this increased functionality.

So, if computers will be able to view television content, and people will be willing to pay for television that can display computer content, there is no reason that the two media will not converge.

Device Convergence

With the convergence of media, we expect the emergence of appliances that will be able to display some sort of standardized media format. These devices will most likely vary in size, intended placement (living room, kitchen, bedroom), and functionality, but will have the common capability of being able to interpret the given converged media format.

Since media will most likely converge to some sort of digital stream with packets of information embedded in it, these information appliances will be able to provide a richer environment for viewing and interaction.

This means that the television in the living room will no longer be just a television, but it will be an \"information\" appliance. In addition to being able to display video streams, it will also be able to present other types of information-web pages, on-line stock quotes, interactive city maps, virtual lectures, etc.-that are encapsulated in the media stream.

This type of scenario has several implications:

  • For video playback, this means the possibility of introducing different encoding and compression schemes into the stream. This may serve to save resources because the entire uncompressed video signal will no longer have to be broadcast. It can also be used to broadcast content at different resolutions, allowing the viewer to choose depending on the characteristics of the viewing device. So a large, entertainment device in the living room may receive a movie in wide-screen format with Dolby Surround Sound, while a smaller device in the kitchen used to get the morning news may only receive the bare essentials.
  • Consider the idea of private vs. public space. With converged media, one can imagine a scenario in which a user is creating or modifying content on a small \"information\" appliance like a PDA while sitting in a meeting (private space). Since the device is using converged media, the user will then be able to instantly upload this work into a public display, like a large video wall in a conference room, for presentation.
  • When giving multimedia presentations that contain both digital information and video information, it is not uncommon to use a computer to display the slides and a VCR to play a video tape. Convergence would push for media and devices that would be able to easily accommodate both formats, so that switching hardware during the middle of a talk will no longer be necessary.
  • Right now, too many forms of media exist. Consider the genre of audio. There are tapes, CD?s, MiniDiscs, RealAudio, MP3?s, and more. Each format requires it?s own special device and switching from format to format is very difficult. One needs a radio to get content broadcast over the air; a CD player is required to play songs on a CD; a computer is needed to play MP3?s. With media convergence, it is likely that you can take a mix of your favorite songs and be able to play it at home, in the car, and at work, since you are using a common media format that can be read by many devices.
  • Audio equipment manufacturers are creating devices that have the capability to play more and more audio formats (some stereos have built in tape decks, radio receivers, MiniDisc players, and CD players). This seems to be analogous to the idea of device convergence and an argument for it.
  • For content providers, the switch to convergent media may initially be expensive, as they will have to invest in new equipment. But in the long run, it will open up more possibilities. As of now, television advertisements are usually very elaborate, but the experience is passive. Viewers cannot simply click on them if they want more information or want to purchase the item being mentioned as they can on the Internet. With converged media, it would be possible to integrate both types of advertisement into one, allowing for both elaborate presentations and complex interactions.
  • For content providers, media convergence also implies that creative content will only have to be created once, not several times for the varying media formats. This too, will save content providers time and money in the long run.
  • The addition of informational bits to the media stream, in combination with these all-in-one devices, will allow content to be more customized to the viewer?s needs and wants. The device may have some sort of filtering agent that only displays advertisements that are of interest to the viewers.

The Argument Against Convergence

  • TVs are consumer-level devices, which mean that they have to be cheap (for the average Joe)
  • Being able to display the vast number of media types available today on the web (Macromedia, pdf, ps, RealAudio, RealVideo) will be expensive and challenging - you need a general-purpose CPU and stuff like RAM, OS, etc. People will not be willing to pay, especially if they?re not really going to use it. Perhaps Java will save convergence.
  • At this point in time, the TV and the WWW are fundamentally different - TV is a broadcast medium, with virtually zero interactivity, while the WWW is a \"pull\" medium, with a high degree of user interactivity required. Things will stay this way - in the short- and medium-term, people are not going to treat the TV and computer interchangeably.
  • So, is the media going to merge and drive the convergence? TV programs with interactivity? Ads, maybe. Education, maybe. But entertainment? People fundamentally go to the living room to be entertained - movies don?t lend themselves well to interactivity. Nor does the broadcast model. Even with a back-channel, 19.2Mbits/s is a one->many transmission. You can hack one-to-one transmission, of course, but why?
  • Another reason why WWW and TV content will not merge is the proliferation of handheld, portable, wireless devices that let you take the WWW (= information + entertainment) wherever you are. The presence of such \"lite\" devices will drive media development away from integrated content and into \"lite\" content that deliver concentrated doses of information. See Diamond?s new Rio player & Cyrix?s new WebPad - instead of converging into a single super-powerful appliance that is used for everything, people will gravitate towards small, specific solutions
  • Personal vs. public - TV is an audience-based thing - many people can watch one movie together. On the other hand, the WWW, and interactivity in general, is personal. One person may have very different responses compared to another, making it difficult for more than one person to surf the web together for extended periods, or participate in an interactive program, unless specifically designed for multiple players.
  • The two mediums, broadcast (TV) and WWW, are sufficiently different, not in technical terms, but human ones, that a merger of the content is highly unlikely. Naturally there will be some overlap & intersection, but it will be minor. There will be no fundamental revolution and/or integration of content.


Consumer Technology - Ban Them All or Let Them Slide

It’s a fact that high-tech consumer products and services of all kinds are making their way into the workplace. They include everything from smart phones, voice-over-IP systems and flash memory sticks to virtual online worlds. And as people grow more accustomed to having their own personal technology at their beck ‘n’ call -- and in fact can't imagine functioning without it -- the line between what they use for work and what they use for recreation is blurring.

However, some of these consumer technologies can prose real security threats to your business. To help you decide on what consumer technologies to ban and what to let slide, let’s take a look at eight popular consumer technologies and services that have crept into the workplace.

1. Instant messaging

People use instant messaging for everything from making sure their kids have a ride home from practice to communicating with co-workers and business partners. In the Yankee study, 40% of respondents said they use consumer IM technology at work. Instant messaging present numerous security challenges. Among other things, malware can enter a corporate network through external IM clients and IM users can send sensitive company data across insecure networks.

One way to combat threats is to phase out consumer IM services and use an internal IM server. In late 2005, Global Crossing did just that when it deployed Microsoft Corp.'s Live Communications Server (LCS). Then in August 2006 it blocked employees from directly using external IM services from providers such as AOL, MSN and Yahoo. Now, all internal IM exchanges are encrypted, and external IM exchanges are protected, as they're funneled through the LCS server and Microsoft's public IM cloud.

Adopting an internal IM server also gave Global Crossing's security team more control. "Through the public IM cloud, we're able to make certain choices as to how restrictive or open we are. We can block file transfers, limit the information leaving our network or restrict URLs coming in," which was a common method for propagating worms, Miller says. "That takes away a huge component of malicious activity."

You can also take a harder line. DeKalb's security policy, for instance, bans IM use altogether. "It's mainly chat-type traffic, not personal health information, but it's still a concern," Finney says. As backup to the restrictive policy, she blocks most sites where IM clients can be downloaded, although she can't block MSN, AOL or Yahoo because many physicians use those sites for e-mail accounts. Her team also uses a network inventory tool that can detect IM clients on employee PCs. If one is found, the employee is reminded of DeKalb's no-IM policy and notified that the IM client will be removed. Finney is also considering various methods of blocking outbound IM traffic, but for now, she also uses a data loss prevention tool from Vericept Corp. to monitor IM traffic and alert the security team about any serious breaches. To do that, Finney's team needs to shut down most of its Internet ports, which forces IM traffic to scroll to Port 80 for monitoring.

DeKalb is looking into the idea of implementing the IM add-on of IBM's Lotus Notes or even an internal freeware IM service like Jabber for business users who want to communicate across campus. "Nothing is 100%," Finney says. "IM is always a huge concern from a security as well as a productivity perspective."

2. Web mail

Of the respondents to the Yankee Group survey, 50% said they use consumer e-mail applications for business purposes. The problem with consumer e-mail services such as those from Google, Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo is that the users themselves don't realize how insecure their e-mail exchanges are because messages are transported over the Web and stored on the ISP's server as well as the e-mail provider's server. Without that awareness, many use no discretion about sending sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, passwords, confidential business data or trade secrets.

One approach to tightening security around Web mail is to use a tool that monitors e-mail content using keyword filters and other detection techniques and the either generates alerts regarding potential breaches or simply blocks the e-mail from being sent. For instance, WebEx Communications is considering expanding its use of a data loss prevention tool from Reconnex Inc. to include e-mail monitoring, according to Michael Machado, director of IT infrastructure.

For its part, DeKalb addresses this problem with Vericept's tool, which captures a screenshot of every Web-based e-mail that employees send, including file attachments, and scans these for company-defined sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers. Alerts are sent to Finney's team so that they can follow up with users to educate them on the dangers of sending sensitive data over the Web.

3. Portable storage devices

One of an IT manager's biggest fears, according to Holbrook, is the steady proliferation in types of portable storage, ranging from Apple iPhones and iPods to flash memory devices. "People can use these to download any number of corporate secrets or sensitive information and move it off-site, which is not where IT wants that information to be," he says.

"In the past three weeks alone, I've heard six different conversations about the risks of flash drives and portable storage devices," says Mark Rhodes-Ousley, an information security architect and author of Network Security: The Complete Reference (McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, 2003).

While it would be easy enough to lock down the USB ports on employee PCs, many security managers say this is not a recommended approach. "If people want to subvert the process, they're going to find a way to get around any barriers you put in place," Miller says. "And where do you draw the line? If you restrict USB ports and [cell] phones coming into the office that may have data storage ports, then you have to look at restricting infrared ports on devices and CD burners, and the list goes on and on."

It's better, he says, to handle the matter by educating people on how to treat the storage of sensitive information. "Most of the incidents that occur are unintentional [rather than] malicious, so that's where education comes in, as to proper handling and why it's important," Miller says.

Machado says he isn't a fan of blocking USB ports at WebEx, mainly because such a strategy would quickly devolve into users asking IT for exceptions to the rule and IT having to manage those exceptions. "Everyone has an exception that they think is important, which takes up more of IT's time than is necessary," he says.

What would be optimal, he adds, is to have a tool that sends an to people who are trying to copy files to USB drives or other unencrypted storage media, advising them that they're going against corporate policy. "Then they know they're empowered to make the decision but that it's going to be tracked and monitored," he says.

On the other hand, DeKalb's Finney says she is interested in blocking technologies and is looking into the Vericept tool's ability to either block certain types of data from being transferred to an external storage device or alert her when someone tries to plug anything into a PC that's not native to that computer. Ideally, she'd like a tool that would also remind employees that corporate policy forbids sensitive data to be stored on external devices.

Meanwhile, Michigan's Grand Valley State University and other colleges and universities where professors and students have lost flash drives with sensitive data are looking into standardizing on password- and encryption-protected USB drives to protect them in the future.

4. PDAs and smart phones

More and more employees are showing up at work with some form of smart phone or personal digital assistant, be it a BlackBerry, a Treo or an iPhone. But when they try to synch up their device's calendar or e-mail application with their own PC, it can cause problems ranging from application glitches to the blue screen of death. "Those types of problems are not uncommon -- it's the mundane things like that that can drive IT nuts," Holbrook says. "It's not how they want to be spending their time."

Moreover, should the employee quit or be fired, he can walk out the door with any information he wants, as long as the PDA or smart phone belongs to him.

Like some other companies, WebEx minimizes those possibilities by standardizing on a single brand and model of PDA and letting employees know the IT organization will only support that one device. WebEx does the same thing with laptops, which Machado notes, represent an even greater threat than PDAs because they can hold even more data. Any unapproved devices are not allowed on the WebEx network.

5. Camera phones

A hospital worker stands at a nursing station, casually chatting with the nurses. No one notices she's got a small device in her hand, on which, from time to time, she's pressing a small button. A scene from the latest spy thriller? No, a security test conducted by DeKalb's Finney.

"One of the tests I did was to go to take my cell phone to the nursing station and start clicking off photos, unbeknownst to them," she says. "I wanted to download the photos, enhance the images and see what I got -- patient information displayed on computer screens or on papers lying on the desk."

As it turns out, she didn't obtain any personally identifiable information, but she did glean the computer name (not the IP address) from the top of the photographed computer screen.

"That kind of information can add up to clues that can be compiled or combined with other information someone could get from other sources in the facility to build a plan of attack," she says.

As a follow-up, Finney added information regarding this potential security breach to DeKalb's employee orientation and security awareness programs, so people are at least aware of how risky it is to expose sensitive data for others to see -- and possibly photograph.

6. Skype and other consumer VoIP services

Another fast-growing consumer technology is Skype, a downloadable software-based service that allows users to make free Internet phone calls. In fact, 20% of the respondents to the Yankee Group study said they use Skype for business purposes.

In a business setting, the threat presented by Skype and similar services is the same as that of any consumer software downloaded to a corporate PC, Holbrook says. "Enterprise applications are highly scalable and highly secure, while consumer applications are less scalable and less secure," he says. "So anytime you download Skype or anything else, you're introducing a security risk that IT is uncomfortable with." For instance, the software can interact with every other application on the PC or network, potentially affecting the performance of every application.

Skype itself has issued at least four bulletins announcing security holes that users can patch when they download the latest version of the software. But because IT often has no idea how many users have installed Skype, let alone who has done it, there's no way for them to police these efforts.

The most secure option, and one that research firm Gartner Inc. recommends, is to block Skype traffic altogether. If a business chooses not to do that, it should actively engage in version control of Skype clients using configuration management tools and ensure that it is distributed only to authorized users, Gartner says.

7. Downloadable widgets

According to Yankee Group, consumers are using devices such as the Q and the Nokia E62 to download widgets that give them quick access to Web applications. These widgets can be easily moved to PCs, which, according to Holbrook, represent another entry point into the technology ecosystem that IT struggles to control.

The risk here is that these tiny programs use processing power on the PC and the network. And beyond that, any software that gets downloaded without being vetted represents a potential threat. "It's not more likely to be infected with a virus, but you're downloading something you might not have a lot of trust in," Holbrook says.

WebEx mitigates this risk using a threefold approach. It educates users on the risks of software downloads; it uses Reconnex to monitor what's installed on user PCs; and it disables some of the users' default access rights, restricting their download capabilities.

8. Virtual worlds

Business users are beginning to experiment with virtual worlds such as Second Life, and as they do, IT needs to become more aware of the accompanying security concerns. It would be short-sighted, Holbrook says, to simply block the use of these virtual worlds. "It's an application that people are just now figuring out how it can be useful in a business setting," he says.

At the same time, using Second Life involves downloading a large amount of executable code and putting it inside the corporate firewall, Gartner points out in a recent report. In addition, there's really no way to know the actual identities of the avatars who populate the virtual world.

One option that Gartner suggests is enabling employees to access their virtual worlds over the company's public wireless network or encourage them to do it from home. A third option is for companies to evaluate tools to create their own virtual environments that would be hosted internally within the enterprise firewall

Content Marketing 9 Emerging Trends

Content Marketing Technology Update: 9 Emerging Trends image NPL Blog1(Meg Sutton @ Business 2 Community) Content marketing is proving to be the MVP in today’s inbound marketing world, with 87 percent of today’s marketers implementing a content strategy to drive sales, establish thought leadership or increase brand engagement.


Journalism techniques and automation platforms that are processing and mining content are now fused together in this type of digital marketing. Because of this, marketers are exposed to content technology and intensive tasks such as content curation.

Tying these all together can get confusing, especially with complex terms such as semantic search, machine learning and natural language processing. However, the importance of learning these terms is growing tremendously for content marketers. Here’s why.

People want fresh, purposeful content and they want it in one convenient place. Let’s say that place is your website. Now, if they aren’t getting the content they want every day on your site, they’re going to look elsewhere – potentially disregarding you as a dependable source and giving a leg up to your competition. So, how can you get them to stick around? Upload original and curated content, fast.

Content marketers don’t always have the time, or resources, to call in an IT team. If you haven’t mastered the technology behind today’s digital marketing world, and can’t get to that IT resource in time, it can be a recipe for disaster. It’s imperative to understand what’s going on in these behind the scenes technologies to be the go-to source in your field.

Here are nine introductions to these intelligent technologies and how they can be implemented to advance your content marketing strategy and make you a better digital marketer.

Artificial Intelligence

Let’s start with the basics. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a broad term that describes intelligent software and computing, allowing a machine to “think” through programming specifications. Although the term is popularly relatable to robots or video games, AI stands as the backbone to many fields, such as natural language processing and sentiment analysis. These technologies allow content marketers and their constituents to search for and discover relevant content, collect consumer data and explore predictive analytics, to name a few.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is a branch of AI where machines can learn from data and predict potential outcomes. For example, machine learning utilizes predictive analytics to score leads, much like Infer or Lattice Engines, or to learn what content is the most relevant, like Curata. This leverages the potential of big data and allows marketers to focus on the information, or leads, that best match their service.

Natural Language Processing

The science of intelligently understanding or generating “natural language”, the language that humans write, is known as natural language processing (NLP). When a user searches “How much is a cup of joe?” their search results will include coffee prices. Even though “Joe” is also a common name, it doesn’t fit within the context of the sentence. NLP aims to understand the structure of human linguistics, not just the words themselves.

This is useful for content marketers looking to dive into the world of mobile marketing as part of their online marketing plan. NLP can be used to help generate content through automatic summarization, like Summly, on mobile so that the information presented is intelligently discovered, purposeful and presented on one page. Users seeking content on mobile devices don’t have the leisure, or space, to click from tab to tab.

NLP can also be used to help marketers understand customer inquiries and better educate their users, leading to improved buyer satisfaction and content congruence. The NLP experts at Q-go have engineered a new FAQ practice, by matching all of the same versions of a searched question with the same answer, i.e. “I need to change the address on my account,” yields the same result as “How do I update my address?” Information can be more easily found and buyer frustrations, and company costs, are kept to a minimum.

Curata’s ability to surface and analyze content within specific user guidelines, as well as our software’s ability to “learn” to improve search performance can be attributed to NLP.

Machine Translation

This is automated content translation. You’ve most likely used the free translation resources offered by Google Translate or Systran. These machine translation tools can cost-effectively transfer content into new markets, international and domestic, reaching a larger audience and increasing potential for improved brand awareness.

Sentiment Analysis

Just as the name implies, sentiment analysis is an automated NLP task used to determine the feeling or “sentiment” of a piece of content. By understanding the sentiment of content posted by potential consumers on social media, marketers have the opportunity to adjust and present targeted information to those users. Crimson Hexagon has the ball rolling on this application by offering social data analytics to discover how people think by analyzing what they’re saying on the Internet.

Information Retrieval

In order to avoid an information overload, search results must be tapered and precise. Information retrieval is the field of retrieving the correct information given a query. This is the science that Google and other search engines use to return the right content to the inquirer.

Without understanding how Google works, marketers can have a more difficult time optimizing content. A solid understanding of Google’s PageRank algorithm and search algorithm, most recent being Hummingbird, gives content marketers an exponentially better shot at reaching a wider audience. Content curation technologies, like Curata, use information retrieval to identify relevant content for consumers.

Document Clustering

The task behind document clustering includes the automatic grouping together of related content.

Document clustering proves itself useful for marketers because it often powers content recommendation engines to suggest other similar content for the searcher to read, improving the reach of content and usefulness for the user. This automation can also be used to suggest call to actions. BrightInfo modifies original content recommendations for individual site visitors, grouping your related information together to keep them around longer.

Collaborative Filtering

In short, collaborative filtering is a technique used to recommend content based on the content consumption habits of similar users. It filters through large amounts of data to obtain the most useful information available to the user. This technique is used by Netflix and Amazon – consumers who watched X also watched Y. Sound familiar?

This is helpful for marketers to understand how to optimize their content for sites that use collaborative filtering. It also proves as a great example of how content marketing and technology can be used to increase product awareness and drive sales.

Semantic Web/Semantic Search

Semantic web is a common data format for adding metadata to concepts and interpreting their relationship. This automation takes the intent of a query and polishes it to provide more customized search results. When a user searches “Veteran’s Day” on Google, not only does the date pop up at the top of the page in bold letters, but it is followed with a stream of history and news stories on the topic.

Semantic search is a beneficial tool for marketers because it can be used to find extended content related to the initial search, giving that associated content an expanded reach. However, the amount of human annotation required for semantic search is causing user interest to decline, as it cannot comprehensively “learn” from existing preferences to make the search process more efficient. Note the graph below via Google Trends, displaying the declining interest in semantic web since 2004.

Content Marketing Technology Update: 9 Emerging Trends image h0w4nhTP7vyxQUeVvPMv DUMtcYiY6sJasmMixhHPjgztd3uanr3m sNv4nEB GJN7pF2XA3WI3sTufH1pRTIotA82i0Ivm7jyhdx7BNZm XfwZGiFno5mmFauYj8CJqS8c

Now more than ever, it’s important to leverage the potential content marketing has for your business. Including content in your marketing strategy is essential to establishing thought leadership and staying ahead of the competition. In order to do this effectively, marketers must understand the technology behind the digital content they’re producing. This knowledge will make your content, and content curation, strategy more effective.

Ready to take the step towards content creation and technology integration? Download Curata’s 2013 Content Curation Look Book and see how these companies are using curation technology to enhance their content and take on the digital marketing world.

Copy And Paste Simplified

Do you spend a lot of time on your Windows XP researching on the Internet? If so, chances are that you probably spend time copying text from interesting WebSites and pasting Word for later reference. That's four separate keyboard strokes—[Ctrl]C to copy and [Ctrl]V to paste—each time you want to save snippets of text. Wouldn't it be nice if you could reduce each operation to a single keystroke?

If you have a Microsoft keyboard that provides a special set of buttons across the top, you can use the IntelliType software to reassign any of the special buttons to perform the copy and paste operations, and this is how we do it:

1. Download and install the most current version of the IntelliType software for your keyboard at the Microsoft Hardware site. (Keep in mind that this step is optional because the IntelliType software you have installed will allow you to reassign the special buttons.)

2. Access the Control Panel and double-click the Keyboard icon to display the Keyboard Properties dialog box.

3. Select the Key Settings tab, choose a key in the list, and click the Edit button to launch the Reassign A Key wizard.

4. Select the Choose From A List Of Commands option button in the Custom section and click Next.

5. In the Select A Command From The List scrolling list box, select the Copy command, and click Finish.

6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 and assign another key to the Paste command.

7. When you return to the Keyboard Properties dialog box, click OK.

Now, anytime that you want to perform a copy or paste operation, all you have to do is press the buttons that you reassigned.

Cover Letter for INMOTION by Greg Allen

There is a lot that my resume does not cover that you might interest you:
1. Every company I worked for, I introduced, promoted, trained, and supported Open Source solutions:
    a. ProNet Manufacturing Shop Floor System ported to LAMP stack environment
    b. LAMP servers for InterNet and IntraNet systems
    c. Debian and Ubuntu application, web, file, and print servers
    d. MySQL, PostGresql, Apache Servers as corporate database
Results: Major cost savings, increased capability, greatly increased reliability, maximum customer satisfaction

2. Active Technologies:
    a. 14 of my 60+ customers, I replaced their Microsoft Servers with Debian Servers
    b. 2 of my customers used OpenOffice in place of Microsoft Office
    c. I switch 10% of my users from Microsoft Outlook to Thunderbird because of expanded capabilities
    d. Active Technologies was a one-man company. I supported all 60+ customers myself, Windows & Linux
    e. My customers enjoyed having near 100% uptime and availability
    f. 20% of my work fighting and protecting against spam, spyware, Zombies, and training users to be safe.
Results: Major cost savings, increased capability, greatly increased reliability, maximum customer satisfaction

3. DesignHostSEO: I supported up to 300+ WebHosting customers.
    a. 60% Wordpress (provided custom websites, custom themes, plug-ins, and hosting)
    b. 10% Drupal (provided custom websites, custom themes, modules, and hosting)
    c. Very familiar with WHM, Cpanel, and WHMC Billing, ip, dns servers
    d. Email Accounts, SpamAssassan, Forwards, AutoSponders, POP, iMap, SMTP Troubleshooting
    e. File Manager, Backups, FTP, Clients such as FileZilla
    f. Webalizer, AWStats, Google Analytics
    g. Password protect files and Directories, chmod, chown
    h. SubDomains, Domain Redirects, Domain Zones, WhoIS, Gateways, DHCP, DNS, SubNets
    i. MySQL setup, phpMyAdmin, Cron Jobs, Network Tools
    j. Linux and WebServer software installs (Wordpress, Drupal, LibreOffice, Scan2PDF, Printers,     ClipGrab, Adom, Audacity, Blender, Darktable, Gimp, Handbrake, Inkscape, MuseScore, Open Shot, Pinta, phpMyAdmin, Putty, Sound Converter, Thunderbird, VLC, Wine)
    k. Video, Photography (Darktable), Music Recording Studio experience (Sonar, Presonus, Reaper). 
    f. Remote Desktop

4. I maintain both Linux and Microsoft servers, and desktops, at my home

5. I surf, sail, hike, play guitar and bass in a band (top-40, rock, jazz, R&B, country (oh no the c-word))

6. Priorities: God, Family/Friends, Work, Fun (balance) I feel good about myself, great family, we have a lot of friends, I always earn good money, and I have a LOT of fun.

7. Mission: To serve and totally delight people by providing tools and services that meets or exceeds their expectations, on-time, under budget. My mission, integrity, drive, energy, vast number of resources, and enthusiasm has made me successful.

Summation: From L.A. (Dude), Huntington Beach (Gnarly) In the South (Waz Up), Always exceed performance indicators, customers love me, zombies hate me, bourne in a bash shell, linux apache mysql php, dnsing, ftping, wordpressing, drupaler, that loves what I do, the people I do it with, and the good folks we do it for. I absorb new ideas and technologies like a sponge and put the good ones into practice. I Kik Azz Whilst training my associates to Kik Azz Too. Hire me please before I’m gone.

I also have some examples of my work:

Drupal website: Click To Enter Please

Wordpress Website: Click To Enter Please

Manufacturing Shop Floor System Using LAMP Stack: Click To Enter Please

Greg Allen – 8645296206 –

Create Your Own Custom Icons

Are you tired of searching the Internet for icons to use for your shortcuts? You can use Windows XP's Paint program to create your own icons, and this is how we do it:

  1. Launch Paint from the All Programs | Accessories menu.
  3. Pull down the Image menu and select the Attributes command.
  5. In the Attributes dialog box, type 32 in both the Width and Height boxes and click OK.
  7. To make the image easier to work with, click the Magnifier tool and select the level 8 magnification setting.
  9. Press [Ctrl]G to add gridlines.
  11. Use the tools and colors to create your icon.
  13. Press [Ctrl]S and save the file with an ICO extension.

You can now assign your custom icon to any shortcut you wish.

Note: This tip applies to both Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional.

Custom Company Email Addresses

In our recent post, we shared tips for finding custom domain names for your business when the domain name you want is not available. Once you select a domain name, you should also consider a custom email address. A custom email address helps you create a professional image and boosts your business’ credibility.

Another important reason for setting up customized email addresses for your business is the flexibility it gives you. For instance, when selecting your custom email address, you can select email aliases for various departments such as or This provides more clarity to your customers when they communicate with you as opposed to routing all communications to one free email address. Email aliases will also direct to one inbox so that you can read and reply to all emails through the appropriate alias as well as categories inquiries.

When you have your own custom email addresses you also have full control over them. For instance, you can easily create new ones or remove inactive ones. When a new employee joins your company, you can easily set up one for him or her and create more custom addresses as you hire more staff.

Lastly, getting a custom email address for your business is important because it makes you and your business more memorable in your customers’ inbox. It helps to build a brand. Imagine your customers getting an email from instead of Which email do you think they are most likely to open and respond to? With, they instantly remember you and your business and can decide quickly whether they want to engage with you or not. Today’s customers are always on the go and are usually pressed for time. Therefore, making the best impression whenever you send email communications to their inbox can really give your business a competitive advantage.

Cut Cable TV in 2012?

Whether you already dumped your cable company or are entertaining the notion of doing so later this year, you’re a part of a constituency that is increasingly finding the notion of life without cable to be an attractive reality. Deliotte, an accountancy firm that follows business trends in media, released the results of their sixth State of the Media Democracy earlier this week and it doesn’t forecast sunnier skies for cable companies in 2012. According to the press release:

    A number of Americans have already cut, or are exploring cutting their pay TV connection entirely. Deloitte’s survey found that 9 percent of people have already cut the cord and 11 percent are considering doing so because they can watch almost all of their favorite shows online. An additional 15 percent of respondents said that they will most likely watch movies, television programs, and videos from online digital sources (via download or streamed over the Internet) in the near future.

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DYI HD TV Antenna

Digital TV Coat-Hanger Antenna

Data Cables - Do It Right For Trouble-Free Service

Data Cables are the lifeline of your business. Most take them for granted because they just sit there and work day after day. After all, they are the fastest and most reliable means for moving data, surpassing WiFI by 1000%. But to get to that point; to earn the right to take your cable for granted, the cable has to be run correctly. This requires good planning and execution, and this is how we do it:

#1. Plan for the future:

With a certainty you know where devices are placed right now. But what about three to five years in the future? Cable is cheap, getting someone to run cable is not. So while the cable installation folks are there, have them make double runs to each location and to logical points on each wall. You may have one computer and printer per office now, but later you may have four people and four other devices. Do it right in the beginning. A little extra expense now is much better than tons of money latter.

Today, 100mb Cat 5 rules the cable world, but tomorrow you may want 1gb cable. Run 1gb Cat 6a cable now so that you don’t have to replace it later.

#2. Use same cable types for voice and data:

 Today your phone system might run fine on inexpensive Cat 3 cable. But the trend now is for VoIP phones that run Cat 5 or better cables. That is because a VoIP phone is really a computer and requires the same amount of bandwidth. Besides, the real cost is in the labor. So use the same cable type for both computers and phones.

#3. Use cable management

 I hear you. Punch Panels, ladder rack, and rack-based cable management adds cost. But it pays dividends when it comes to reliability and versatility. Fact is, point-to-point hand-made cable connections are 75% more likely to fail, and finding the failure on a point-to-point cable system if very difficult. Punch panels using commercial patch cables if very reliable and allow you to easily document your cable system. You not only minimize the chance for failure, but you also make it easy to find and fix if it does fail. At the minimum, use a Punch Panel!

Versatility is another plus for cable management. Moving a system to a new device is a simple matter of moving cables. Unplug from one port and move it to another. Cable management really makes “cents”.

#4. Never run Data cables parallel with electric wire

It is tempting sometimes. Computers require electricity and electrical wires usually go right where you want to put a data cable. But electric cables put out 60 cycle electromagnetic interference that can wreak havoc with a data signal. Rule of thumb, stay at least one foot away from 110 volt electric wire, two or more feel from 220v or 440v wire, and don’t follow a parallel path. If you must cross over an electric wire with data cable, do so at a right angle. And if you must run in parallel down a wall, push a little extra cable in the wall. That will cause the data cable to run in an “s curve” fashion, minimizing that chance of a parallel run, thus minimizing interference.

#5. Stay away from Noisy Electrical Devices and Lighting

Fluorescent, sodium vapor, metal halide lights and motors can emit a tremendous amount of electrical  magnetic interference. We measure a 3 foot aurora of electromagnetic interference around a typical fluorescent light, with spikes exceeding 15 volts within the aurora. Since data cable signal is usually measured in milivolts, placing data cable within the aurora will not only disrupt data signals, but it could also harm to computer equipment. Stay at least three feet away for fluorescent lighting and motors. Five would be even better. If you must cross a fluorescent light (do so at your own risk), do so at a right angle, and with as much clearance as possible.

#6. Stay within cable distance limitations:

It’s simple. Cat 5 maximum cable length with 100mb Ethernet and no electromagnetic interference is 320 feet. If you must exceed 320 feet, use a booster or repeater.

Use Cat 6a cable for 1gb bandwidth up to 320 feet. Anything else is a respite for disaster!

#7. Follow ALL laws, codes, and ordinances

 Chances are you won’t get caught, but there are far worse things than “getting caught”. Failure to adhere to local codes can create dangerous safety issues for people. Example: PVC-jacketed cabling is prohibited in air handling spaces. When PVC burns, it creates a toxic gas that can be harmful to your people and firefighters should there be a fire. I wouldn’t want that on my conscience!

 If you are caught, you risk fines and the likely hood of having to rip out and replace your cabling. Bottom line, make certain that your cable contractor is aware of, and follow ALL codes and ordinances.

 #8. Test and certify the cabling infrastructure:

 Once the cabling is installed, you should test every cable using appropriate tools to make sure that it will be suitable for its intended use. This includes verifying length and cable specifications matched to needs. If you need 1 gb transmission speeds, verify that the cable’s properties will support 1gb.

 #9. Follow Cabling Standards

There is a cabling standard named EAI/TIA-568-A and B. It dictates the method by which data cables are terminated. Not following the standard can diminish the results and effect bandwidth throughput and reliability. In addition, if somebody else has to come back later to work on the data cables, it will be much easier and quicker is the cables are to spec and standard. Much less costly too.

 #10. Not running a cable when you need one

 New installations: Run two cables together, for every 10 feel of wall. Adding cable later is very expensive as most of the cost is in simply getting the cable person out there.

You can use a switch and create additional cable drops, but that injects more equipment and additional cables into the system, resulting in increased points of failure. When this is done, it usually does not get documented, making is exponentially difficult to troubleshoot problem. Then there is the “swinger” where the cable works “most of the time” but Murphy’s law has the cable fail at the worst possible time, then working again when the cable tech comes to fix the problem. Run cable, not switches.

The same rules apply whether you are funning calbe in a manufacturing plant, office building, or home office. If you do this right in the beginning, you can count on many many years of trouble-free cable service.

Death By Printing

Here is the paradox: If we truly live in the electronic age and everything has become digitized, why, oh why, are we spending so much time printing? Printing is the bane of our existence, always rearing its ugly head when we least expect it. We spend good money for applications that reliably stores all of our data for online presentation, yet end-users spend hours printing screen dumps and filling file cabinets with paper. Isn’t that nuts?

Most of what’s printed out is thrown right into the trash can. A quick search on the internet reveals that numerous organizations and educational institutions report a sustained increase in paper usage highlighting the point that electronic systems aren’t decreasing the amount of printing by users, its increasing it. And as it increases, the more importance is placed on the printing infrastructure and the more money spent on printers, toner, paper, and chasing down myriads of printing issues.

To compound the problem, the cost of printers continues to go down whilst the quality of lower end printers continues to rise. So it’s becoming increasingly easier for staff to justify purchasing personal printers. Yet whilst printers are cheap, the toner, developer, and other consumables has climbed to the point where it can be cheaper to buy a whole printer than a toner cartridge (it is the hidden cost of consumables along with increased volume that drives the high price of printing).

Everyone can create a reason for why they “need” a printer of their very own. How? Most, managers play the confidentiality card. They can’t be expected to print performance reviews and other confidential documents on the departmental printer. Okay, fine. I can accept that. Plunk a printer down in their office. But then staff wine that they need printers for the mobile laptop carts. Reason – they can’t walk down the hall to the unit’s main printer. That would negate the benefit of having the mobile cart in the first place. Then the billing department reports that they require individual printers to print each customer’s account screen. Reason – it’s easier to read the printouts than the screen.

See where this is going? It’s a runaway train headed down a steep cliff. It appears we’ve spoiled our users into expecting technology coddling. Think of someone at home frantically looking for the TV remote instead of walking over and turning the channel (I’m not saying I’ve never done it.) I’ve got to have it now and I shouldn’t have to move to get it.

So what is wrong with so many printers scattered around the workplace? It complicates the printing infrastructure and can severely reverse the benefits of the paperless solutions you paid for. More Toner, paper, trash, plus the time spent printing, reading, then disposing of the paper. And talk about your security issues. Now your private information is subject to trash diggers and dumpster divers (unless you opt for the expense of a shredder and the time spent using it).

However, if you lead they will follow if they know why and how. Death by printing can be avoided by communicating the objectives, a little training, and a little monitoring of printing activities. The benefits will soon fill the bottom line instead of your trash cans.

Defrag or Buy New Eqipment - Daaaa

When a computer or network slows down, most will list the root cause as old or slow equipment. Some even opt to replace it with new equipment. However, What has been overlooked is that many of these problems occur because of fragmented hard disks on servers, laptops, and desktops.

What is disk fragmentation? In simple terms, fragmentation occurs during normal system use when users create, delete, and resize computer files on their hard disks. The continual creation and deletion of files causes file segments, originally created in contiguous or continuous blocks, to be scattered, or fragment into many pieces all over the hard drive, separated by other data blocks. The more fragmented the pieces become, the longer it takes for the computer or server to find and read the files, and overall system performance degrades.

A common analogy for fragmentation is to imagine a customer file that has been split among 20 filing cabinets. Wouldn't it be easier and faster to find the information if it were place in one contiguous file area?.

Excessive disk fragmentation can create substantial performance degradation on both servers and workstations. Some companies, unaware of the true source of the problem, may resolve such a performance issue with more expensive acquisitions of higher performance hardware. However, it is just a matter of time before fragmentation impacts the new machines as this solution only temporarily masks the real problem. Therefore, a company can address performance slowdowns without hardware purchases by utilizing a defragmentation policy rather than relying exclusively on more costly hardware upgrades.


An estimate of the savings associated with customers instituting a defragmantation policy was based on a one-year installation. Each customer was asked about individual installations of hardware and software. Research found that defragmented servers could effective serve 12% more users than unfragmented servers, and the defragmented servers experienced 10% higher uptime than non-defragmented servers. The estimated savings came to $195.20 per user per year with an ROI (Return On Investment) of 165%.

Bottom line – Let’s developed a defragmentation policy.

Desirable Employees

(Jeff Haden @ Inc) What criteria do you use when promoting employees? See if your list of qualities matches this one.

One of the most common questions employees ask is, "What can I do to get promoted?"

It makes sense: Often employees assume there is a key initiative, a specific action, a high-visibility project, or a critical role they should take on...and if they do, a promotion is just about guaranteed.

Maybe that is sometimes true. Maybe that's how you make promotion decisions.

Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot (No. 666 on the 2013 Inc. 5000), takes a different approach. Dharmesh focuses on the employee's attitude.

His reasoning is simple. Attitude informs action. Attitude informs behavior. Attitude is the driving force behind every achievement, every accomplishment, and every success.
Attitude, where performance and therefore advancement is concerned, is everything. To Dharmesh, highly promotable employees:

1. Are humble, not arrogant.
Arrogant people think they know everything; humble people are always learning. Humble people ask questions. Humble people ask for help.
Humble people automatically share credit because they instinctively realize that every effort, no matter how seemingly individual, is actually a team effort.
Humble people are willing to take on any job, no matter how menial, because they realize no job is beneath them...and in the process they prove that no job is above them.

Ultimately, success is not limited by how high you can stretch but by how low you are willing to bend.

2. Are servants, not self-serving.
People never accomplish anything worthwhile by themselves. That's why great teammates make everyone around them better.
Take an unselfish basketball player: He makes his teammates better by delivering pinpoint passes in space, by boxing out, by setting solid screens, by rotating on defense...all the things that don't show up in the statistics but definitely improve the stats of his teammates.

Great leaders focus on providing the tools and training and culture to help their employees do their jobs better--and to achieve their own goals.

Great companies serve their customers first; they know that by serving their customers they ultimately serve the interests of their business.

The employee only in it for himself will someday be by himself. The employee in it for others may not get all the limelight...but the right people definitely notice.

3. Are optimistic, not pessimistic.
Optimists add energy to a situation or meeting or business; pessimists drain away energy. Optimists try more things and take more (intelligent) risks simply because they're focused on what can go right. Pessimists never get started because they're too busy thinking about what might go wrong.

Optimists don't feel they need to wait--to be promoted or accepted or selected or "discovered"--they feel they can, if they work hard, accomplish almost anything.

Best of all, optimism is infectious.

4. Think execution, not just planning.
Planning is definitely important, but too many shelves are filled with strategies that were never implemented.
The best employees develop an idea, create a strategy, set up a basic operational plan...and then execute, adapt, execute, revise, execute, refine, and make incredible things happen based on what works in practice, not in theory.

Success starts with strategy but ultimately ends with execution.

Employees who advance are certainly good at planning, but they are awesome at execution.

5. Think forever, not one day.
Real leadership isn't short-lived. Real leaders are able to consistently inspire, motivate, and make people feel better about themselves than they may even think they have a right to feel. Real leaders are the kind of people you follow not because you have to...but because you want to.
Other people will follow a real leader anywhere. And they'll follow a real leader forever because she has a knack for making you feel you aren't actually following--wherever you're going, you feel like you're going there together.

Creating that level of respect, that degree of trust, and that type of bond takes time. Great employees consider not just the short-term but also the long-term--and then act accordingly.

And in time, are placed in positions where they can truly influence the long-term success of their team, their unit, and their company.

6. Are volunteers, not draftees.
The best employees are natural volunteers. They volunteer for extra tasks. They volunteer for responsibility before responsibility is delegated. They volunteer to train or mentor new employees. They offer to help people who need help--and even those who don't.
Why is that important? Volunteering demonstrates leadership aptitude. Leaders are proactive, and proactive people don't wait to be told what to do. They're already doing it.

Successful employees earn their promotions by first working harder, just like successful businesses earn higher revenue by first delivering greater value, and like successful entrepreneurs earn bigger payoffs by first working hard well before any potential return is in sight.

Draftees expect to be asked. Draftees expect to be compensated more before they will even consider doing more.

Volunteers just do it--and, in time, their careers flourish.

7. Are self-aware, not selfish.
Self-aware people understand themselves, and that awareness helps them understand the people around them. Self-aware people are more empathetic. They are more accepting of the weaknesses and failures of others because they know how it feels to fail.

And they can lead with empathy, compassion, and kindness because they know how it feels to be treated with disregard, disdain, and scorn. They do everything they can to help others reach their goals, because they know how it feels to fall short.

Self-aware people solve for the team, the organization, and the customer--not just for themselves.

Every organization needs self-aware people in key roles. (What is a key role? Every role.)

8. Are adaptable, not rigid.
Things constantly change in high-growth companies. Inflexible people tend to grow uncomfortable with too much change and consciously--even unconsciously--try to slow things down.

Best practices are important. Methodology is important. Guidelines, procedures, policies...all can help a business run smoothly.

But anyone can follow guidelines and procedures. Great employees are willing, even eager, to change. Great employees respond to new circumstances and new challenges with excitement, not hesitation. Employees willing to adapt and adjust tend to advance more quickly because that is what every company--especially a high-growth company--desperately needs.

Otherwise growth will be a thing of the past and not the future.

9. Are teachers, not truant officers.
The best people like to teach. They don't hoard knowledge; they spread it. They share what they know.

A truant officer's job is to make sure people show up. A teacher's job is to make sure people learn.

Besides, truant officers tend to give "advice." Do this. Don't do that. Go here. Don't go there.

A teacher gives knowledge. A teacher helps other people gain experience, gain wisdom, gain insight. A teacher willingly and happily gives other people tools they can use.

In the process a teacher build teams.

And a teacher advances, because a true team builder is a rare and precious gem.


Desktop - Laptop - Netbook OR Smartphone

More and more people I know are using portables as their primary or only computers. Some of them are buying the big "desktop replacements" behemoth laptops with 17 or 18 inch screens, a boatload of RAM, big (for a laptop) hard drives and expensive amenities such as Blu-ray players. Several 18 inchers were released last year just before Christmas:

However, it seems that maybe there's a natural limit when it comes to the size people will buy when it comes to a computer that they're going to carry around with them. None of the major vendors has gone up to 19 inches yet. HP and Sony each offer one laptop model in the 18 inch size, whereas the largest on Dell's web site is 17 inches. Note that Dell did, however, release a massive 20 inch laptop a few years back, which came with its own built-in handle.

Although the Dell M2010 was impressive looking, at over 18 lbs. it was just too hefty for most people to lug around. You won't find it for sale on the Dell site today, and although I did get a chance to see it \"in person\" at a Consumer Electronics Show (CES), I never knew anyone who actually bought one. Maybe it was the weight - or maybe it was the $3500 base price. Or maybe it was a combination of the two. We also heard that the battery life was understandably shabby - around two hours at best. There comes a point, after all, when bigger is no longer better; it's simply bigger.

A desktop replacement makes sense if a laptop is going to be your only computer, but it seems quite a few folks are getting by these days with a lot less. The hottest selling segment of the PC market is still in netbooks - tiny machines with skimpy specs that sell at low prices. And for someone whose only need for a computer is to check email, surf the web and create a word processing document now and then, a netbook may very well suffice.

On the other hand, for about the same price ($350-400) you pay for a netbook that has 1 GB of RAM, a 120-160 GB hard drive and a 1.6 GHz Atom processor, you can get a desktop computer with 4 GB of RAM, a 320 GB hard drive and a 2.3 GHz AMD processor (specifically, I compared an Acer Aspire One 751h and an HP p6100z; both were advertised for $349.99).

I know which one I'd buy if it were going to be my only computer - but then, I want a full-fledged computer. A recent study showed that many people who buy netbooks are dissatisfied with their purchases afterward - and that the biggest reason is that they were expecting the performance and functionality of a normal computer.

Whereas a desktop system will probably always give you more bang for the buck, it's not easy to pack up a tower (or even a mini tower) and monitor and take it on the road when you travel, although it's not impossible, either. My son recently took his Core i7 desktop with him to a chess tournament in St. Louis, but he was driving. It gets more complicated if you have to fly. This week he's in Spain for another tournament, and he has his laptop with him instead.

Just how important is portability, anyway? One could make the argument that it's actually less important to take a portable computer with you everywhere today than it was a few years ago, because so many of us have smart phones with data plans, which can perform many of the functions of a computer and fit in a pocket. If all you need to do is read email and surf the web, you can do that with a Windows Mobile phone like my Samsung Omnia, an iPhone, a Palm Pre, or one of several other high end phones running sophisticated smart phone operating systems.

In fact, my dream device is a handheld computer/cell phone the size of the Omnia/iPhone, with complete USB functionality (i.e. the ability to plug in a USB hub and attach a keyboard and mouse, even a USB hard drive) and a video out port to output to a regular monitor. And if someone would market small (12 inch or so) flat panel monitors with stands that fold down so you could easily slip them into carrying cases and take them with you, you wouldn't need a laptop/netbook for traveling at all.

Of course, most of us wouldn't want to have a phone as our only computer. But since we wouldn't need to buy a laptop or netbook, we could spend that money on a real (desktop) computer with much more powerful specs instead. If this scenario came to pass, I think desktop sales would start going up again, and the market share of portable computers (other than smart phones) would decline.

Desktop Mess to Desktop Clean

Desktop Spring Cleaning

It’s the first day of Spring! As you look to clean up other parts of your life (e.g. your home, your refrigerator, your yard) make the cleanup of your web design business a priority as well.

If you’re anything like me, you set aside time later in the week or month, promising yourself that you’ll finally take care of “business stuff”. And if you’re also like me, you often have to postpone those business maintenance tasks because new paid work opportunities come in. (Or you’re just exhausted and want a break from looking at your screen.)

But there’s no time like the present, so if you can spare it, give yourself at least one day off from work to tackle this spring cleaning checklist. Not only will it give you time to zero in on the areas that often go neglected in your business, but you’ll come out of it feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work.


Difference Between Analog and Digital for Transmitting Data

Analog vs Digital

Comparison chart

  Analog Digital
Signal: Analog signal is a continuous signal which represents physical measurements. Digital signals are discrete time signals generated by digital modulation.
Waves: Denoted by sine waves Denoted by square waves
Representation: Uses continuous range of values to represent information Uses discrete or discontinuous values to represent information
Example: Human voice in air, analog electronic devices. Computers, CDs, DVDs, and other digital electronic devices.
Technology: Analog technology records waveforms as they are. Samples analog waveforms into a limited set of numbers and records them.
Data transmissions: Subjected to deterioration by noise during transmission and write/read cycle. Can be noise-immune without deterioration during transmission and write/read cycle.
Response to Noise: More likely to get affected reducing accuracy Less affected since noise response are analog in nature
Flexibility: Analog hardware is not flexible. Digital hardware is flexible in implementation.
Uses: Can be used in analog devices only. Best suited for audio and video transmission. Best suited for Computing and digital electronics
Applications: Thermometer PCs, PDAs
Bandwidth: Analog signal processing can be done in real time and consumes less bandwidth. There is no guarantee that digital signal processing can be done in real time and consumes more bandwidth to carry out the same information.
Memory: Stored in the form of wave signal Stored in the form of binary bit
power: analog instrument draw large power digital instrument draw only negligible power
cost: low cost and portable cost is high and easily not portable
impedance: low high order of 100mega ohm
errors: analog instruments usually have a scale which is cramped at lower end and give considerable observational errors digital instruments are free from observational errors like parallax and approximation errors


Definitions of Analog vs Digital signals

An Analog signal is any continuous signal for which the time varying feature (variable) of the signal is a representation of some other time varying quantity, i.e., analogous to another time varying signal. It differs from a digital signal in terms of small fluctuations in the signal which are meaningful.

A digital signal uses discrete (discontinuous) values. By contrast, non-digital (or analog) systems use a continuous range of values to represent information. Although digital representations are discrete, the information represented can be either discrete, such as numbers or letters, or continuous, such as sounds, images, and other measurements of continuous systems.

Properties of Digital vs Analog signals

Digital information has certain properties that distinguish it from analog communication methods. These include

  • Synchronization – digital communication uses specific synchronization sequences for determining synchronization.
  • Language – digital communications requires a language which should be possessed by both sender and receiver and can should specify meaning of symbol sequences.
  • Errors – disturbances in analog communication causes errors in actual intended communication but disturbances in digital communication does not cause errors enabling error free communication. Errors should be able to substitute, insert or delete symbols to be expressed.
  • Copying – analog communication copies are quality wise not as good as their originals while due to error free digital communication, copies can be made indefinitely.
  • Granularity – for a continuously variable analog value to be represented in digital form there occur quantization error which is difference in actual analog value and digital representation and this property of digital communication is known as granularity.

Differences in Usage in Equipment

Many devices come with built in translation facilities from analog to digital. Microphones and speaker are perfect examples of analog devices. Analog technology is cheaper but there is a limitation of size of data that can be transmitted at a given time.

Digital technology has revolutionized the way most of the equipments work. Data is converted into binary code and then reassembled back into original form at reception point. Since these can be easily manipulated, it offers a wider range of options. Digital equipment is more expensive than analog equipment.

Comparison of Analog vs Digital Quality

Digital devices translate and reassemble data and in the process are more prone to loss of quality as compared to analog devices. Computer advancement has enabled use of error detection and error correction techniques to remove disturbances artificially from digital signals and improve quality.

Differences in Applications

Digital technology has been most efficient in cellular phone industry. Analog phones have become redundant even though sound clarity and quality was

Analog technology comprises of natural signals like human speech. With digital technology this human speech can be saved and stored in a computer. Thus digital technology opens up the horizon for endless possible uses.

Disaster Preparation On A Tight Budget



Photo © Pixsooz - Fotolia

How can Americans lose water, electricity, or other vital utilities through no fault of their own? Let me count the ways: tornado, derecho, El Niño, nor'easter, hurricane, tropical storm, thunderstorm, windstorm, rainstorm, snowstorm, ice storm, hailstorm, earthquake, volcano, lightning strike, water-main break, sinkhole, chemical spill, random bad drivers crashing into utility poles, and additional options I can't currently recall.


The point is that no matter who you are or where you live, you should always be prepared for the chance that your power, water or other vital utilities might disappear for awhile, possibly without prior warning.

When you search online for information about emergency food storage, emergency power sources, disaster preparedness, or similar topics, the results are usually cluttered by pages catering to so-called “preppers” or “survivalists” -- people preparing for the possibility that modern civilization will fall and its life-sustaining amenities permanently go away.

Not that there's anything wrong with preparing to live entirely “off the grid,” if you want and can afford to do so. But full-fledged off-grid living is vastly more expensive than preparing for a temporary disruption, which is why those survivalist-prepper sites aren't necessarily useful for people simply trying to make it though a relatively brief storm-generated power outage or similar problem.

Surviving without utilities

Like more and more Americans these days, over the past few years I've weathered several storms resulting in days or even weeks of weather-generated utility loss. I spent a cold wintry week without heat or electricity after the Halloween blizzard of 2011 killed the power to more than half the state of Connecticut. This happened a mere two months afterHurricane Irene knocked out the power to more than half the state, which happened only a couple weeks before some unnamed mid-September rainstorms brought down power lines and washed out roads all throughout my own city.

Capable of taking a hint, I moved to northern Virginia the following summer and hadn't even lived there a full week before that monster “derecho” storm of 2012 walloped the region and — you guessed it! — knocked down power lines for miles in every direction. I've trudged  through a handful of shorter outages since then.

The one good thing about repeated utility disruptions is that trial and error makes you progressively better at handling each one. It also drives home the lesson that the time to prepare your emergency kit is right now, before you think you'll need it, because once you know for certain that a power-killing disaster is headed your way, the local stores have already sold out of everything useful.

Storm preparation essentially falls into two categories: steps you must take to protect your home itself from being damaged or destroyed, and preparations necessary to live in your home after some or all of its utilities are cut off.

My colleague Stacey Cohen has already explained how to protect your house from a storm. Once you've done that, living in the house after the storm but before utilities are restored requires additional preparation.

Preparing your emergency supplies

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, recommends that every American have a disaster-supplies kit capable of sustaining your household for three days. FEMA still promotes this three-day rule more than 10 years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans and demonstrated that in the event of a real catastrophe, a mere three days' worth of supplies won't be remotely enough. I personally keep at least a seven-day supply for my own household, and recommend you meet the same minimum.

But what necessities (and even luxuries) should that seven-day kit contain?

Emergency power generation

If you have the money to buy a generator, dedicated outdoor space where you can safely operate it, and additional space to safely store the fuel, then buying a generator might be a good option for you. But it generally isn't a safe option for apartment or condo-dwellers, even those with outdoor balconies or tiny fenced-in backyards. I've muddled through my various electrical power outages without one.

Emergency lighting: lanterns, flashlights, or candles?

Even with a home power generator, you'll still want battery-operated flashlights and lanterns. The cost of their batteries is far cheaper than the cost of fuel to run a generator to power regular home electric lights.

If you need to light your path while navigating through a large, dark space – such as walking outside at night when all the streetlights are dead – then a flashlight is better than a lantern. Flashlights focus their light in one direction whereas lanterns shine everywhere, including in your own eyes, which wrecks your night vision and makes it much harder for you to see whatever's in the darkness beyond the lantern-light.

For lighting a room the reverse is true: a lantern shining in all directions is better than a flashlight illuminating a single spot.

Of course, candles and oil lamps can also be used for lighting, but they are fire hazards and also generate a good deal of heat (which can be useful in a wintertime blackout, but unpleasant in the summer).

Battery storage

Most LED flashlights and lanterns these days are powered by lithium-ion “button” batteries, though you can still find some powered by alkaline batteries (usually AA, AAA, C or D-cell). Alkaline batteries are far more prone to corrosion than button batteries, especially in humid climates. That's why you should never store emergency radios, lights, fans, or other appliances with their alkaline batteries in them. (I accidentally ruined a very nice battery-powered camp lantern because I foolishly forgot this rule, stored the lantern with its D-cells in place, and some months later discovered nasty green corrosion had completely destroyed the lantern's battery compartment.)

Now I keep my battery-operated appliances in a dedicated emergency-storage box, with any pre-used batteries in plastic sandwich bags duct-taped to the appliances: this radio was powered by the two D-cells in the attached baggie, that fan by the four attached D-cells, and so forth.

Do not “mix and match” batteries. Different items drain battery power at different rates, which is why you must, for example, make sure that the two D-cells you used in your radio are henceforth only used in that radio, not in the D-cell lantern or fan, and vice-versa.

Water storage, when money and space are limited

If you're in an area where a hurricane's forecast to strike, the authorities will urge you to fill bottles and jugs with water now, in case storm runoff contaminates or cuts off public water supplies. You should also seal your bathtub with a leak-proof plug and fill it with water, for flushing toilets. Add some bleach to the bathtub water, so it doesn't turn into stagnant bacterial soup.

Of course, buying and storing bottled water is the easiest emergency-water option – if you have the money and space for it. The minimum clean-water storage recommendation is one gallon per person per day, though people in hot climates can need far more than that in order to account for perspiration.

In my household, we often wash and save clear plastic juice bottles with screw-on caps for water-storage purposes. Some of these recycled bottles are in my fridge and freezer right now, primarily as an energy-saving measure: keeping ice frozen, or cold water cold, requires less electricity than cooling an equivalent volume of empty air.

But should you suffer a short-term power outage, when you can hope power is restored before your frozen food thaws and refrigerated food goes bad (so long as you don't open the door and let the cold air out), that ice or cold water helps prolong the time you have before losing the food. And in the event of a long-term outage, after the food in the fridge has been written off, those bottles now hold emergency water supplies.

It's always good to have more water-storage capacity than you think you'll need (and if you don't need it, your neighbors might). Empty plastic juice or soda bottles are very lightweight, but also very bulky. I don't really have the floor or shelf space to store these empty bottles, so I keep them in a clean, never-used garbage bag thumbtacked to the ceiling of my storage closet.

However: while you can wash and re-use juice or soda bottles for water storage, do not try doing this with plastic milk jugs or dairy bottles. No matter how thoroughly you wash those, you can't ever be certain you removed all traces of milkfat and milk protein, so a bottle that looks clean can still be a breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria.

Other drinks

You should have individual-size servings of your favorite juice or soda over and above your drinking-water supply, because a power outage is boring enough without drinking flavorless lukewarm water, too. If you have young children, you should also consider getting boxes of no-refrigeration-needed milk for them. As with all food and drink purchases, keep an eye on the expiration dates and rotate/replace your stock as required.

Bear in mind: as a consumer-news source, this website usually urges food and drink shoppers to check the unit prices and buy the lowest one — for example, buying a gallon jug (128 ounces) of fruit juice for $4 is much cheaper than paying $2 for a six-pack of seven-ounce single-serving juice boxes or cans (42 ounces).

But that assumes you have a working refrigerator to safely store that gallon of juice after you open it. In a power outage with no refrigeration, any canned or bottled food or drink must be consumed soon after opening, or it will go bad. So, unless you have an unusually large household big enough to consume a “giant economy size” in a single sitting, your emergency food and drink supply should primarily consist of small single- or double-serving sizes, even though they cost considerably more than larger bulk purchases.


The obvious choice for emergencies is food that can be stored without refrigeration and eaten without cooking: crackers and peanut butter; bread; canned fruit; granola or energy bars; pudding or fruit cups, and the like.

If you do want to cook, remember the first and most important rule of cooking in a power outage: never, under any circumstance, try cooking indoors with a barbecue grill, liquid or gas-powered camp stove, or similar items. They all generate toxic fumes or exhaust, and can only be used in outdoor settings where the fumes can dissipate.

During my week without power, I didn't do any true “cooking,” in the sense of transforming raw ingredients into something edible. However, I was able to warm up various canned heat-and-serve items over a small can of ethanol gel of the sort used under chafing dishes. The key word is “warm”; ethanol gel is good enough to heat a can of ravioli, but won't work for boiling water or anything like that.

And, of course, you'll want a manual can opener since your electric one won't work.

Dishes, utensils and cookware

If you lose power but still have clean (though cold) running water, you can use your regular dishes, cookware, and utensils and, in a pinch, hand-wash them with dish soap and cold water. But if you suffer a loss of power and clean water, you can't even do that, so make sure you have plenty of disposable utensils and paper plates on hand. I also keep a supply of inexpensive disposable aluminum chafing dishes just the right size to heat a can of soup or baked beans over ethanol gel.

Keeping things clean

If you're generating far more and far dirtier garbage than usual, say because a lack of running water means you can't wash dishes or even rinse out dirty cans before throwing them away, it's useful to have several small plastic bags to wrap these dirty cans and paper plates airtight. If you leave dirty plates and cans exposed to the open air too long, they're likely to attract bugs.

If you live in an area where stores still give customers disposable plastic shopping bags, keep a few dozen of them on hand for this purpose. Otherwise, you'll need to buy some.

Either way, if you lose water you'll also want a supply of pre-moistened towelettes or baby wipes to keep yourself clean – not nearly as good as a real bath or shower, but far better than nothing if you lack water for bathing.

Home climate control

If you get lucky, your extended power outage will coincide with a period of clement temperatures – not too hot and not too cold, so lack of heat and air-conditioning won't be a problem.

You probably won't get lucky.

For outages in too-hot weather, you always want some battery-operated fans on hand: ideally, a minimum of one fan for each person in your household, plus an extra couple of fans for drawing air in or out of open windows. Most such fans require alkaline rather than lithium batteries, so remember not to store the fans with the batteries inside.

If you live in a hot but dry climate, it's quite easy to use fans, water, and thin, damp cloth to jury-rig a makeshift “evaporative cooler” or “swamp cooler,” which works because when liquid water evaporates, it draws heat away with it. If you plan ahead, you can also buy supplies to make a dedicated emergency swamp cooler for less than $100.

Unfortunately, swamp coolers don't work in humid climates; in such conditions, adding humidity to the air only makes you feel warmer.

Generating heat in a cold-weather power outage is much easier, even if you lack such amenities as a fireplace or wood-burning stove. During my post-snowstorm week without power, when nighttime temperatures dropped to the teens or low 20s, I closed off the bedrooms in my apartment and managed to get the common areas up to 66 degrees at night, by burning vegetable-wax tealight candles in space heaters I'd made from coffee cans.

However, mine is an all-adult household. If I lived with small children, rambunctious pets, or anyone else incapable of showing proper respect for fire, it would've been far more difficult to safely use coffee-can space heaters.

Cash in small bills

If the power's out in your area, the ATMs will stop working — and a lot of businesses, even if they manage to stay open, won't be able to accept credit cards. During the week my whole region lost electricity, there were a couple stores and sandwich shops in walking distance that stayed open on generator power, but until the regular power came back they operated on a cash-only basis.

Medicines and medical supplies

If you or anyone in your house requires regular doses of medication, always have at least a few days' worth on hand, if possible.

Whether you require medication or not, you should also have a well-stocked first aid kit available. Plenty of companies will sell you a pre-stocked first aid kit, but in most cases, when you look at what those kits actually contain, it's much cheaper for you to buy the individual components and put a kit together yourself.

That's usually the case for any pre-stocked emergency kit offered for sale: anything from a three-day emergency food supply to an all-purpose lost-in-the-wilderness survival bug-out backpack might well be good to have, but you'll get a better kit for less money if you put it together yourself.

And put this kit together now, before you need it, because if you wait until you do then it'll probably be too late.

Do You Need A Screen Saver

(Steve Yates MITS) A long time ago we answered this question for CRT monitors, however it bears re-visiting with the recent popularity of LCD monitors. The answer may surprise you.

Screen savers were invented many years ago to prevent "burn-in" on monochrome (green or amber) monitors. Burn-in happens when one image has been displayed on the monitor for a long enough time that the phosphors on the monitor are permanently "burned" or marked with that image. This is most obvious when the negative of the image is still visible on the screen even when the monitor is turned off. Modern screen savers have gone beyond the basic blank screen and added animation, sound, and cartoon characters to screen savers. This is, of course, to sell more of them.

While color CRT (picture tube) monitors generally do not require a screen saver unless they are left on for a significant period of time, LCD monitors are in fact subject to burn-in. Samsung, a manufacturer commonly used by ITS, recommends that if a burned-in image is visible on an LCD monitor the user should unplug the monitor for 48 hours and that will ususally clear up the problem. Users of CRT monitors are not as lucky; burned-in images on those devices tend to be more permanent.

ITS still sees some screen savers that actually cause problems. For instance, some fancy screen savers use so much processor time that other functions on the PC grind to a halt - therefore we recommend that our clients never run animated screen savers on a server. We have even seen this slowdown happen using the generic screen savers that come with Windows.

Therefore ITS recommends users with all monitors stick with the plain "blank" screen saver, use the power settings in Windows to turn off the monitor after an hour or two of inactivity, and/or just turn off the monitor. After all, if a monitor is going to be unused long enough to cause burn in, it may as well be off.

Read More - Click Here!

Documentation With Video

Video Examples

Table of Contents

Expert Interview Recorded In Studio
Expert Interview Recorded On-Site
Expert Interview Recorded Online
Demonstration: In-Studio
Demonstration: On-Site
Recorded Lecture/Presentation (With and Without Picture-in-Picture)
Recorded Lecture with Images in Background
Student/Faculty Discussion
On-Site Recording of Lecture/Presentation by an Instructor or Others
On-Site (Local) Recording of Lecture/Presentation by an Instructor or Others
Whiteboard Animation

Production Note: The creation of all of the examples below can be achieved through the collaboration of the Online Education Initiative. For other productions, Duke Media Services offers many of these services to the general community.

Expert Interview Recorded In Studio

9/11 and Its Aftermath — Part I
David Schanzer, Associate Professor of the Practice, Sanford School of Public Policy

What are the benefits and challenges of this type of video?
This type of video provides a high-quality, professional recording of conversations with important individuals on key topics. The surroundings are controlled, so the audio, lighting, and the editing are good by definition. Depending on how the interview is structured, excerpts or segments may be used in more than one course in a variety of ways. There may be challenges getting the expert you would like to interview to the studio, if they are not local to you. Also, there will be a cost associated with hiring the professionals, unless you have free access to such staff from your department/school.

How was this created?
As the name implies, this video was created in a recording studio (at Duke Media Services), with the help of professional videographers. This was a three-camera shoot, with one camera recording a wide view (showing both participants), and one recording close-up on the faces of each participant. The participants prepared an outline of topics and questions and did not use a teleprompter. (However, if they had chosen to do so, they would have needed to create a finished text file with the script they planned to use, to be loaded onto the prompter before the recording started). The participants talked until they completed the interview satisfactorily; if any question or answer was not well-spoken, the participants paused briefly and then re-started that question or answer.

The shoot used “live camera switching” to capture footage from individual cameras as selected on-the-fly during the live session, by a videographer working in a control room. This technique reduces post-production editing, but increases the cost of shooting because an additional staff member is needed to handle the switching. (An alternative technique would be to record the full interview on each camera, and then edit together segments as needed, post-production.) Once the recording was done, titling was added and additional minor editing was done to create the final file. The participants reviewed this version to confirm it was satisfactory.

How much did this cost?
The 15-minute video from which this 30-second clip is extracted was one of several videos recorded during a one-hour studio session. The studio session cost approximately $610 to shoot and edit; therefore, on average, this video example was $11/minute to shoot and edit.

For this interview, the expert was local at Duke and did not require any travel costs to the studio, nor did he request any honorarium for his time.

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Expert Interview Recorded On-Site

Innovation and Design for Global Grand Challenges
Dr. Alex Deghan, Senior Visiting Fellow in the Office of the President at Duke

What are the benefits and challenges of this type of video?
The benefit of recording these conversations on-site rather than bringing the expert into a live face-to-face class includes cost savings (saving the expert’s travel costs), and the ability to record on the expert’s schedule at their location. The participants also have the opportunity to highlight objects, equipment, or other features at the site that cannot be taken into a studio setting. On-site recordings may not be as controlled as recordings done in a studio, but the use of a professional crew can mitigate any issues with audio and lighting and create a high-quality, professional recording.

How was this created?
This example was recorded at the Duke Lemur Center using two camcorders and a lavalier microphone for each speaker. A simple light kit was used to ensure good lighting on the speakers. The video was recorded straight through, with the speakers re-starting any questions or answer which they didn’t like. Video editing after the shoot cut out any mistakes and created a final video file (which the speakers reviewed one or more times, until it was satisfactory)

How much did this cost?
This 30-second clip was extracted from a 20-minute-long video. An on-site interview similar to this one, shot and edited by a professional crew, would cost approximately $300.

Does The Coachella Tupac Hologram Really Work

The "resurrection" of rapper Tupac Shakur wowed audiences at the Coachella music festival. But the illusion isn't a hologram, as some have reported -- it's actually a 2-dimensional video cleverly projected using technology based on an old theatre trick. 

Tempe, Ariz.-based AV Concepts orchestrated Tupac's performance using Musion Systems Ltd.'s Musion Eyeliner setup that was able to project an animated version of Tupac (created by visual production house Digital Domain) onto a screen that appeared invisible to the audience.

Read More - Click Here!

Does memory card speeds matter

Read and write speeds for SD memory cards are measured in classes. A higher class means a faster card, so you'll see Class 2, 4, 6 and 10. Stick with 4 or 6 for photos and 6 or 10 if you shoot video with your camera. If your camera supports Class UHS-I, that's an even faster card. For CompactFlash cards, you'll see ratings like 50x, 133x, 266x, 300x and 600x. Take the speed and multiply it by 150KB per second - so 133x would be about 20 megabytes per second. 266x is a good speed for most people. Keep in mind that some CompactFlash makers advertise read speed instead of write speed. Make sure you know how a card is measured before you buy

Domain Name Auto Renew Can Save Your WebSite and $35,000.00

Recently, a savvy Web entrepreneur made nearly $35,000 from of a $15 domain. Seems like a great story, unless you'e the one spending a small fortune to buy back a domain that used to be yours. This is just one of many frightening tales of domain expiration. People spend years building an audience or a customer base for their site, only to lose it all because they failed to renew the WebSite domain name.

The saddest part of these stories is that all of the heartache and expense could have been easily avoided. Most domain registrars offer a free auto renew service. This prevents your domain from expiring by automatically renewing it just before the expiration date by using a credit card your registrar keeps on file. It's so simple, safe and effective, it’s a wonder that not everyone uses it.

Of course, there are still those rare occasions when the credit card you have on file with your registrar expires between the time of purchase and your auto renew date. Fortunately, Active Technologies & have another solution for those who don't want to take any risks with their domain. We monitor domain registration dates and notify you 30 days in advance so you never have to worry about loosing your domain AND you don't have to worry about credit card and personal information floating around the internet.

Drupal Content Management System (CMS)

Why Content Management System (CMS)? - Why Drupal? For one thing, even folks with simple websites want the ability to modify, add, change web site content without paying through the nose for it, or learning a programming language.

Homeowner Associations - non-profits want all the bells and whistles that the big boys have with little or no budget to pay for it. In addition, they may want several people to be able to modify, add, change content such as newsletters, budgets, minutes, with no programming experience. In addition, they may desire protected areas for homeowners and other areas for board members.

Large Companies may want to bypass their IT department to get something done fast with little or no budget. Content modify, add, change may come from a world-wide network of folks and in different languages. The site may include areas for the general public, secure areas for customers, distributors. The site may include moderated forums, knowledgebase, technical support, rss news feeds, and sales articles, troubleshooting routines, and a repository of secure documents, catalogs, shopping carts, data acquisition, and program distribution.

Fact is, anyone from any category may want their website to do just about anything. And as needs change, why be strapped down to an obsolete system?

Why Not A Proprietary Solution? Why shouldn't you use “Amazing Web Company's proprietary CMS?” Look at how shiny it is! They talk coding geek! They must know what they're doing, right? Good programmers don’t necessarily make good businessman as Proprietary CMS vendors life expectancy is only about two to three years.

There are literally thousands of content management systems out there. It seems like every web development firm has their own beautifully branded version. Each blatantly promises to make it easy for you, the client, to update your own web site, even if you are as hopeless as my Chihuahua on a computer. As you know, the devil is in the details. Problem is, most CMS companies never last long enough to deliver on their promise.

Our Criteria - We knew we wanted an open source CMS that would be actively supported, flexible, and robust. It needed to be able to support our SEO (Search Engine Optimization (Google ranking) work, and also there had to be enough people working on it so that we knew it wouldn't be obsolete next year.

There are plenty of articles comparing CMS's, so I'm not going to go here. Suffice to say that after carefully reviewing the top systems, we chose Drupal for its combination of flexibility, scalability, world-wide support community, speed and maturity. Most importantly, though, we wanted something that would satisfy our customers.

Why Drupal? - But don't take our word for it. Drupal is one of the most popular content management systems on the Internet and is much more robust than it's competitors. According to estimates, there are an excess of 50,000 sites using Drupal. These include Amnesty International, MTV UK, Sony MusicBox, The Onion, Spread Firefox, and several political sites such as Vote Hillary and Draft Obama (you may or may not like their politics, but their websites are “state of the art”) IBM, NASA and Yahoo all use Drupal for their intranets (see "Why Yahoo! chose Drupal for an internal site"). NATO and the World Bank also use Drupal.

Drupal is a completely open source platform built on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (the engine that powers the internet and Android SpartPhones) and has a clean, focused core code base. It's really an application framework, which makes it easy to add modules for features without touching the core programming code, leaving the site safe for quick updates when needed.

Unlike many other CMS programs, Drupal code is compliant with XHTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) instead of using HTML tables to theme pages. It also supports a broad range of SEO techniques, making it easy for us to optimize sites for search engines. In addition, it works well in a shared hosting environment (the least expensive, most common web hosting packages).

Most importantly, Drupal has a large, friendly, worldwide community of developers who work on it, write modules to make it able to do more, and are there for support. The community is robust, VERY active and lead by some really smart people, which means that there are many sources for Drupal-related services if the need arises in the future.

We Choose Drupal! - So there, I've said it: we love Drupal. We've been working with it for a couple of years, and it's been a dream.

Eclipse 2017 Not Worth The Risk

Eclipse 2017 Not Worth The Risk

Eight Reasons To Fire A Customer

Nothing is more valuable than having good customers with recurring business, especially in these times of economic distress. Therefore, always do our best to correct any problems in the client relationship. However, some business is just bad, and some customers hurt your company rather than enhancing your bottom line. The following are eight scenarios where you might consider firing your customer:

#1: They insist that you do something that's unethical or illegal. Sure, you both might be able to get away with it, but if you compromise your integrity, your customer will never trust you. You customer will soon figure out that If cheat for them, why wouldn't you cheat against them? More importantly, you would degrade yourself in your own eyes. INTEGRETY IS EVERYTHING! Have some self-respect and bid the customer adieu.

#2: They ALWAYS pay late. You can never allow late payments to become the status quo; customers will only get later with their payments. Naturally, you should take steps to improve your customer's payment habits first, but if they refuse to reform, say au revoir.

#3: They repeatedly angle for a reduced fee. Your rate is clearly stated in your contract, which they signed, yet on every project they ask you for a reduction for one of a number of fabricated reasons. They all translate to one real message: The client doesn't think you're worth what you charge. If you can't convince the client of your value, and you have other clients who clearly get the picture, it's hasta la vista (however, if a lot of your customers have the same issue with you, it may be time to take a hard look at the service you provide, and the manner in which you provide it).

#4: They try to get you to work for free. Perhaps they bought this machine from you but did not pay you to set it up or train them on how to use it. Instead, they call 20 times a day with setup questions that they expect you to answer for free. Worse yet, they bought the machine from another company! If the client can't comprehend those points, then arrivederci.

#5: Their organization is structured to prevent success. Policies, procedures, and the channels of communication are either poorly designed or abused to the point where your failure is guaranteed. It's your duty to point out these flaws and help your client try to correct them. If they just don't get that there's a problem here, auf Wiedersehen.

#6: The personalities involved are incompatible. I'm a likable guy — just ask my wife (oh, forget I said that). Really, though, I try to get along with everyone. But it's just hard to work with some people especially when the customer is abusive, constantly uses foul language, or is fixated on sexually explicit jokes and stories. When the only reason why you would ever subject yourself to the tortures of being in their acquaintance is the money, you either need to get a lot of money or say sayonara.

#7: They demean or insult you. In any relationship, insults are the first step in a plan (conscious or not) to lower your status. INSULTS SHOULD NEVER BE REPAID IN KIND! Rather than establishing respect, you have simply reduced yourself to their low level! This is a bad way to start a client relationship, where mutual respect should be earned and given. If the mutual respect thing just doesn't happen, it may be time to retreat from the battle and find a new customer.

#8: They require that you do things the wrong way. In any long-term engagement, there will inevitably be some disagreements over technical approaches. Sometimes you just have to do what the customer wants, even if you vehemently disagree. But that should not become an everyday thing, or you'll just hate your work. Perhaps you and your client are not a good fit. Dosvidanya.

How do you pull the plug on a customer? If your work consists of a series of small projects, you may be able to complete your current task and then politely say “no, thanks” to whatever else they offer. Or you could change your terms on future projects to be so lucrative for yourself that even if they don't get your not-so-subtle message, you won't mind. Just price yourself out of the game.

You could us the straight forward approach and tell you customer the reasons why you no longer want to work with them. It can be tricky because you don't want to burn more bridges than strictly necessary. Keep emotions out of it, and stick to the facts. It's more useful than concealing your complaint because it might help the client to improve, and it might help you, too. By putting your reasons into a dispassionate explanation, you might reveal some shortcomings of your own that contributed to the problem. Or best of all, it might help you both to fix whatever you considered beyond hope. However, in most cases, this approach ends badly!

Last thought: If you are the only source of technical support or materials... NEVER NEVER NEVER leave your customer in the lurch (other than non-payment)!

Einstein's Biggest Fear Came True

Albert Einstein Biggest Fear (9 Pics)

It's here

Elevator Speech VS "the Unhook"

Elevator speech is a good tool to have and use. But I find the “unhook” to be far more powerful. Several weeks ago a fellow networker told me about how he used his professional and highly polished elevator speech, expecting the usual stellar response. The next person in line simply stood and said, “I survived a suicide attempt”. He “unhooked” the entire audiance and plugged them into “himself”. Nobody remembered anything anybody else said that day. He was mobbed at the end of the session and quickly filled his appointment book. Harness the power of the “unhook” (before everybody else does), and you really have something. For more information look up Yeager Smith on LinkedIn. Over 30 years of sales, I have never sold anything in an elevator. Greg Allen – Active Technologies

Employee Action Simply Unconscionable

An employee (not one of our customers) was moved to a less prestigious position but received the same pay. Both jobs were performed in an air-conditioned office in an eight hour day that began at 7:00am. . However, the new job offered little upward potential and prestige. The employee was simply moved to a position with a greater need in the billing department.

The instructions were simple, print the invoices, stuff the invoices in a window envelope, run the envelope through the envelope sealer, then run the envelope through the stamp machine.

Sounds simple enough to me. Easy job; no headaches. In fact, this person did the same job two years ago. What could go wrong?

Well, I’ll tell you. Rather than placing the stamped envelopes in the mail basket, the employee crammed them into a cubby above the desk where they sat for five weeks. AR balances were rising whilst receipts took a dive.

Mean time, the IT guy had to add phone lines in the area, opened the cubby and invoices began spilling out onto the floor. As the IT guy feverishly re-stuffed the invoices back into the cubby, the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) noticed the ruckus down the hallway and perused by to see what the excitement was all about. You should have seen his face when he realized that over 1.7 million in invoices where “here instead of there”! Ready to be mailed instead of ready to be paid! Good thing you didn’t hear what he said!

When asked why, the employee responded “You never told me to mail them”.

Should this employee “get off on a technically”?

In my book, employees should exert themselves mind and body as agreed for the companies benefit during working hours. And if you have a question or see a gap in the process, it is the employee’s duty to ask!

Ethical Ways to Increase WebSite Traffic

If you have a product you're really proud of, it should speak for itself. But when it comes down to it, you still need to get customers on your website in the first place — especially if you're running an e-commerce operation.

We asked a panel of 13 successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice for generating high-quality, organic search traffic to their business websites. Here's what they had to say:

1. Focus on the Long Tail

lawrence watkinsIf you are a new site, it can be difficult to go after popular keywords right away. I find it better to write many quality articles on very specific keywords than to go after the ones with more search traffic. A great benefit of staying focused with long-tail key terms is that they usually convert better, as well. To help with this, I recommend a tool called HitTail, which drives targeted search visitors to your website by focusing on the most promising organic keywords in your existing traffic.

- Lawrence Watkins, Great Black Speakers


2. Stick Around

Alexandra LevitThe longer you are in business and producing quality online content, the more likely you are to pop up in search results for all related keywords. Starting a blog or churning out a bunch of articles is all fine and good, but keeping those activities going for years as opposed to months (or weeks) makes a huge difference.

- Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work


3. Optimize Your Articles

Nathalie LussierThere are three main ingredients to a successfully optimized web page or article: your meta title, description and keywords. This is such a simple thing to fill out when you're publishing a piece of content on your site, so take the time to do it each time, and you'll start to rank for your keywords much faster.

- Nathalie Lussier, The Website Checkup Tool


4. Don't Forget About (Ethical) Link Building

Christopher KellyKeyword-embedded links are the foundation of off-page search engine optimization. The best part is that links can be free. Just ask vendors, partners, press, clients, your alma mater and any other credible source that you interact with to embed hyperlinked keywords back to your site for the terms that you are targeting. If the referring source has a high page rank, you should see a pop in your rankings in less than two months of them being published.

- Christopher Kelly, Convene


5. Use Google's Keyword Tool

patrick curtisUse Google's Keyword Tool to find long-tail keywords that are not as competitive, then structure some content around those. If you are in a competitive niche, this is a way you can start building up some small recurring traffic and engage your users.

- Patrick Curtis,



6. Provide Amazing Value to Your Readers

Liam MartinWhen it comes to increasing organic search, content marketing through blogging or guest posts is the fastest way to build great traffic. However, content marketing is a quality game and not a quantity game. If you have horrible content, people won't bother reading it or sharing it, which is basically the entire point of building a company blog. Therefore, when I write content, I constantly ask myself if I would take ten minutes out of my day to read it and if I'd share it with others. If you wouldn't do either of those things, then you really need to look at your content strategy again.

- Liam Martin,

7. Don't Try to Outsmart Google

Sarah SchuppGaming Google's system might work temporarily, but it is not a good strategy for the long haul. To increase organic search traffic, produce top-notch content that's relevant to what your users might be searching. Check the Google Keyword Tool to make sure you're using the correct terminology that the general public is using when they're searching.

- Sarah Schupp, UniversityParent


8. Think of SEO as an Opportunity to Create Value

Danny WongSEO isn't a game. At least it's not a game that you'll win in the long run if you think of it as a game. Create content that readers find valuable and Google will deem search-worthy. Visitors are more likely to share content that they enjoyed reading and will stay on your site longer, while bloggers and the media might use your site as a reference, which means more organic links.

- Danny Wong, Blank Label


9. Decrease Bounce Rate

adam liebIf there is one thing search engines hate, it is a high bounce rate. Check your keywords for this, and optimize those pages to reduce your bounce rate. Search engines will love you for it.



- Adam Lieb, Duxter

10. Produce Quality Content

John HallSearch engines are rewarding people and companies who are getting high-quality, consistent content coming from them. Things such as author rank are going to have a big effect on organic search results. Put a plan in place to not only create content to publish online, but also to be able to maximize the value of the content so that it is properly distributed across social channels and has a chance to go viral.

- John Hall, Influence & Co.


11. Create a Company Blog to Increase SEO Traffic

Jay WuSEO is king in organic search traffic. The more popular search terms within your niche that you include on your website, the more searches will organically lead to your site. But including too much text on the main pages of your site can do more harm than good, which makes it difficult for consumers to find the information they want. Instead of overwriting the copy on your homepage, about page and product pages, start a separate blog for additional SEO work. Use the blog to write about your niche, whether it's construction, beauty or entertainment. Try to do keyword research to find out which phrases are trending in your industry and include them in the blog posts. As long as your blog has a highly visible link back to the main page of the website, the blog will increase your visibility.

- Jay Wu, A Forever Recovery


12. Leverage Industry Experts

Chuck CohnEveryone likes opining as an expert. You'll be surprised how easily you can convince industry leaders to contribute guest posts to your own blog. They will likely have their own readerships, and those people will become familiar with your brand. The experts are also likely to produce great written content that will be of great interest to your existing users.

- Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors


13. Create a Community

Mitch GordonIncreasing Google traffic is all about answering questions your community finds important. You need to become the authority in your niche. Have your community ask you questions, and you'll be well on your way to providing high-quality, valuable and useful content. That's what Google cares about. When you provide answers to your community's questions, Google will rank your site well for many keyword terms you wouldn't have been able to think of on your own. You create loyalty in your community and rank well in Google at the same time. That's a win-win.

Face-To-Face - Most Productive Business Contact by Sussy Andrew

Three Reasons to Do Business Face-To-Face
Recently, I delivered a keynote presentation about business growth, "Fence Posts to Trees," to the top forty emerging leaders of a U.K.-based pharmaceutical company. I ate with one of their five senior VPs during the meal that preceded.He lives in Scotland, commutes to London weekly, and travels to other countries. We talked about his travel schedule a bit and I asked, "How much do you employ technology to conduct virtual meetings?" To my surprise he answered, "More than I like. When we're doing business in other countries, it's difficult to virtually communicate some things." As we talked more, here's what I heard him saying. Think of them as three reasons to do business face-to-face.
A face-to-face meeting:

Powers business
Let's face it-there are a lot of companies out there that you can do business with. What separates the companies you choose from the companies you don't select is about the business transaction, but it's more than that. There is the human connection.

There are some aspects of the human connection that don't communicate well even if you use video. The myopic view of the camera misses gestures, body language, some vocal intonations, and the je ne sais quoi of human interaction. It takes the total package of the human experience to transform a business transaction into a business experience. Such experiences break the ice in a different direction that captures our interest and imagination. It's the most important "why" of closing a deal.

Builds trust
As my senior VP friend talked about communicating corporate core values internationally and how they take expression in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, I realized he was talking about trust. Getting in front of a manufacturing partner meant he could insure that the high standards by which his company produces viable health solutions is more likely to happen. By meeting face-to-face, he could validate the necessary protocols and procedures were followed, therefore building trust in the relationship.

Exchanges idea more effectively
Doing business in the global village means there are certain cultural assumptions we all make based on our background. Those assumptions don't translate without explicit statements.

On site, my friend could not only impart knowledge, but receive ideas from the new partner. These ideas are more effectively exchanged person-to-person; looking someone in the eye, listening carefully for vocal nuances, and experiencing the total communication process. By meeting face-to-face, he was in a better position to give and receive information that improved the business relationship.

While technology certainly empowers us to do business in markets and manners previously unavailable, the desire for human interaction still exists deep within us.
To Conceive a Work Positive lifestyle and greatly improve your productivity and profitability, be sure to meet face-to-face whenever possible.

Facebook Can Get You Fired

Teachers, especially, are being haunted by social media postings.

In today's world of social media, job applicants have been cautioned about what they put on Facebook, since employers often search applicants' names online. Embarrassing photographs and postings might prevent you from getting the job you want.

But can what's on Facebook also get you fired? Janet Decker, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor in UC's Educational Leadership Program, says it can, especially if you are a teacher.

Though she does not cite specific numbers, Decker says that a “large number” of educators have been fired for Internet activity. She says that some teachers have been dismissed for behavior such as posting a picture of themselves holding a glass of wine.

Read More - Click Here!

Facebook Debt Collector Attack

(So when Haralson, 47, logged into her Facebook account one day, she was surprised by an unwelcome inbox message: a request to call “Mr. Rice” about her debt.

“It’s not like they needed to go on Facebook to find me,” Haralson said. “I was in contact with them all the time. That crossed the line.”

Federal regulators could wind up agreeing with Haralson as the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission examine how debt collectors use social media websites like those run by Facebook Inc. (FB) and Twitter Inc. to contact potential debtors.

U.S. regulators are mulling a series of actions in 2013 as they impose comprehensive federal oversight for the first time over the debt collection industry, which generated 180,000 consumer complaints to the FTC in 2011. In the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB gained new powers over debt collectors that no other federal agency ever had.

Richard Cordray, the CFPB director, has made debt collection a priority for the agency because about 30 million consumers -- “nearly one out of every 10 Americans” -- have accounts in collection totaling $1,500 on average, he said in an Oct. 24 speech.

“We will be using both our supervision authority and our enforcement authority to oversee the market and go after bad actors who flout the law,” Cordray said.

Amex Settles

Regulations would affect credit-card issuers like Capital One Financial Corp. (COF) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), who also face supervision over how they handle debtors. The CFPB sent a signal of its intent in October when it announced a $112.5 million settlement with American Express Co. (AXP) partly over claims of improper debt collection practices.

At the same time, debt buyers like Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc. (PRAA), Encore Capital Group Inc. (ECPG) and Asta Funding Inc. (ASFI) are also facing the first-ever federal oversight of their business. The CFPB approved a rule on supervision that took effect Jan. 2.

“As a company that engages in debt collection, we need to be prepared for the heavy oversight that CFPB will bring,” Asta wrote in a Jan. 18 regulatory filing.

Phillip Duff, president of Lighthouse Consulting Inc., a research firm whose focus includes debt buying, said the presence of CFPB is changing the industry’s structure already. Major credit-card issuers are increasingly selling only to large debt buyers who can handle tougher federal oversight.

‘Big Guys’

“They are positioning themselves to do business with the big guys because they are more compliant and more ethical,” Duff said in an interview.

The accounts-receivable industry had revenues of $17 billion in 2011, according to Kaulkin Ginsberg, a Rockville, Maryland-based consulting firm. In addition to debt collectors, the industry includes debt buyers, who purchase written-off debt from creditors such as credit-card issuers. Debt collectors can be independent agents, employees of buyers or members of law firms.

Rules Unclear

Mark Schiffman, a spokesman for ACA International, a debt collection trade association, said the group has discouraged the use of social media by its members because the law is unclear, and court cases have not clarified how Facebook, Twitter and other sites can be used legally.

“We tell them to avoid” social media, Schiffman said in an interview. “The rules on it are not clear.”

A body of U.S. bank regulators, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, on Jan. 22 asked for public comment about proposed supervisory guidance to banks on social media. Debt collectors use of these media “may violate the restrictions on contacting consumers imposed by” current law.

The request said a broad swath of social media could be affected by the guidance, including Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Google Plus, Twitter’s micro-blogging site, Yelp Inc. (YELP)’s business review site and LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD)’s professional network. It could also cover Second Life, a site owned by closely held Linden Research Inc. where users create virtual identities and communities, and online games created by Zynga Inc. (ZNGA), according to the request.

Complaint System

The CFPB, which shares jurisdiction over debt collection with the FTC, will begin taking complaints about the industry in the second quarter of this year, according to two people briefed on its plans.

The CFPB complaint system, required by Dodd-Frank, links federal regulators with the companies in order to find solutions for consumers. Collecting complaints would also let the bureau amass data on the industry as a prelude to issuing proposals for regulation later in the year, the people briefed on its plans said.

The CFPB’s supervisory authority covers about 175 debt collectors that account for more than 60 percent of the industry’s annual receipts, Cordray said.

The consumer agency may also take enforcement action against the debt-collection industry, something the FTC does regularly. The bureau has already issued civil investigative demands for documents, a step that can lead to enforcement penalties, according to two people briefed on its work.

‘Miranda Warning’

L. Richard Fischer, an attorney with the law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP in Washington who has represented card issuers, called the Amex case a “Miranda warning” to similar companies about the bureau’s intentions on behalf of consumers. In the U.S., the Miranda warning specifies a citizen’s rights during interactions with the police.

In the settlement, Amex agreed to pay $112.5 million in restitution and penalties to settle claims by regulators that it violated consumer safeguards from marketing to collections in products sold to about 250,000 customers.

In the case, Fischer noted, CFPB aimed at the company’s practice of trying to collect old debt by falsely implying that reports of payments would improve customers’ credit scores. Amex also deceived some customers into settlement offers that despite promises didn’t wipe out their debt.

A joint CFPB-FTC working group on debt collection is examining how the government should regulate the industry, according to David Vladeck, until recently the director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection.

The underlying law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, dates from 1978. At that time, the debt-buying industry, which purchases charged-off debt at a discount and attempts to collect it, barely existed.

Rules Urged

“Either Congress needs to modernize the statute or CFPB needs to interpret the statute,” Vladeck said. “We are urging the CFPB to engage in rulemaking.”

In particular, Vladeck, who left the FTC in December and is now a consultant to the agency, argued that the CFPB needs to limit the ability of debt collectors to use electronic tools that are not entirely private, since the law prohibits debt collectors from disclosing information on debts to third parties. That could include not only Facebook and other social media, but also work e-mail addresses, he said.

Haralson, a medical office assistant who lives in Dunedin, Florida, is embroiled in a dispute with MarkOne Financial LLC, a Jacksonville, Florida company that finances auto sales and collects debts. Haralson said the company overcharged her, and that she stopped making payments after shelling out $18,000 for a $12,000 Jeep Cherokee. Since then, she complains of harassing phone calls to her work, her cell phone and family members.

Harassment ‘Cherry’

The use of Facebook is a “cherry atop the harassment dessert,” Haralson’s lawyer, Billy Howard, said in an interview.

MarkOne general counsel, Ryan Johnson, declined in a telephone interview to comment on the Haralson case, saying it is the subject of pending litigation. He also declined to outline the company’s policy on use of social media.

Howard said he’s seen more aggressive use of social media by debt collectors, including rude postings on a person’s “wall,” the part of a Facebook account that a person’s friends can see. Some collectors masquerade as friendly personalities to catch an alleged debtor’s attention.

Bikini ‘Friend’

“You get a friend request from some chick in a bikini,” said Howard, a lawyer with Morgan & Morgan P.A. in Tampa, Florida. “You say yes, and then somebody says ‘‘by the way, I’m a debt collector.’”

John Bedard, a lawyer for the collections industry at Bedard Law Group, P.C. in Duluth, Georgia, said the industry is likely to oppose further limits on how it can contact debtors.

“The law should not stand in the way of a consumer’s desire to communicate in these new ways,” Bedard said in an interview.

Bedard said that people have to expect that debt collectors could use tools like Facebook “since it’s not unlawful to search the Internet and view publicly available information.” The law does not require them to obtain consumer consent to use Facebook, but “wise collectors” do so, Bedard said.

Jodi Seth, spokeswoman for Facebook, declined to comment.

Some collectors choose not to exploit social media at all. Portfolio Recovery Associates has a policy against its use, spokesman Rick Goulart said in an e-mail.

Origin Obscure

Consumers contacted through social media may be especially disconcerted because collectors often don’t provide information about the origin of the debt. Peter Holland, an instructor at the University of Maryland law school, said contracts for the sale of debt often limit the rights of collectors to identify the originator.

“You may have no clue what the origin of the debt is when you have first contact with the collector,” Holland said in an interview.

Vladeck said the CFPB should also write regulations requiring the disclosure of that information to potential debtors so they can determine whether they in fact paid the debt. The fair debt collection law of 1978 didn’t foresee that debt could be sold to other collectors.

“Debt does not die the way it did before debt buying,” Vladeck said.

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Fax Server or Fax Service

The answer is not as clear as it used to be. Those Fax Servers are pretty expensive to own and operate. Fax Services can reduce the hassle for a fat fee. And hey, it’s 2007 and we have email. How much longer will we need fax anyway?

In 2006, the fax server market sputtered at 0.4% to $280 million whilst the fax service market ballooned 26.4% to $570 million (two market research reports by Davidson Consulting). So lots of folks are using Fax. Fax upgrade and consolidation of existing fax equipment may be another consideration. Do you spread them out all over the company (decentralize) or have one big fax server (centralize)?.Perhaps it is prudent to have two fax systems (redundancy) in case one fax system goes down. What are the hidden costs? But if you use a fax service you don’t need all that equipment and people to keep it running.

Before deciding it is paramount that you understand what you fax (send and receive) why you use fax, and how you presently fax information! Once you have the answers to those questions, a quick briefing on the different fax systems will help you decide what is best for your company.

Many use production fax application to automate the unattended sending of hundreds of purchase orders overnight, potentially saving a bundle in labor and mailing costs while getting the purchase orders out to buyers quickly. Invoices faxing is a popular automation trick as well. Production fax accounted for 33.7% of all fax server installations in 2006 and accounted for $86 million in fax services. You can handle this type of application from either a fax server or a fax service, although many managers will feel more comfortable with an in-house solution because of a belief that it is insecure to ever have that type of data on an outside server. Nonetheless, many enterprises decide to go with a fax service to handle all their faxing needs, including production faxing.

Inhouse fax server or Outsourced fax service, using an automated fax system can enabling you to better manage your fax activity. Example: users can send files directly from their desktops, without having to walk to a fax machine, saving you money in time and labor costs. Moreover, it means that every file your people fax can be automatically archived, a key requirement of many compliance regulations like HIPPA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) and Sarbanes-Oxley. Finally, every fax is automatically received in email, which means that faxes are not sitting as paper in fax machine out-trays and they, too, can be automatically archived for future reference.

Fax Servers Are…

A fax server is comprised of server software that runs on a server and client software that runs on desktops. The fax server market is expected to grow at an 8.2% compound annual growth rate to $400 million in 2010. The client software is what end users see and use. Typically, this client software is installed from a central point on the network. There is no need to install a separate client on every desktop. There is conventional client software and then there is web fax software. Client software allows users to send faxes and to receive them, as well as manage their personal activity. Client software either allows users to send from personal applications in the same manner as printing, or it allows users to use their email interface to fax their documents. Typically, users can integrate their client software with any Microsoft application (e.g., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access) and often many other applications as well. Senders can attach multiple, mixed file attachments to a fax and they are converted to image files. Receiving faxes is as simple as opening an email. Web fax client software is simply a web site that users access. Therefore there are no installation hassles involved. Workers simply go the web site every time they want to send or retrieve a fax. Often a web fax client will not have every single feature that a desktop client has, but web clients are catching up. And web clients are compatible with every type of desktop.

Fax server software handles the management and maintenance of a company’s entire fax operation. Server software typically is compatible with leading server operating systems and enterprise email systems. The server software may be integrated with Microsoft Exchange email, IBM notes or any SMTP email programs. As well, fax server programs that support production faxing often support integration with SAP, Oracle and other enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management solutions. This is an area where the purchaser should be interested in the close relationships that some vendors have with key ERP players. Example: Esker has been a SAP partner for years. During installation, many fax servers support adding users directly and automatically from an email system or from other computerized logs of employees. This can save a great deal of time compared with individually adding each user manually.

Fax server software also handles the routing of inbound messages from the fax server, where the message is actually received, to the individual end user desktops that are operated by the intended recipients of the messages. Fax servers support this inbound routing capability through a number of mechanisms that work in various ways. First, there is direct-inward-dialing (DID), which works like a PBX with direct phone lines. The DID capability receives a wide range of numbers to a single phone trunk and it checks the last four digits against a routing table to determine where the phone call should be routed. This is the best form of inbound routing because it means the fax sender merely has to dial a phone number and the fax is automatically inbound routed. DID, however, may not be available for some older PBXs and it may be somewhat expensive relative to purchasing the DID phone numbers. DID (and ISDN, a similar routing technique used abroad) was used in 78% of all fax servers employing inbound routing in 2006. Other methods that may be used range from manual routing, where a human being routes each fax as it arrives (used 5% of the time), to optical character recognition (OCR; used 2.5% of the time), where the name of the intended recipient is machine-read off the fax cover sheet, to dual-tone-multifrequency (DTMF), which is where the fax sender must dial an extension number (used 11% of the time), to line routing, where a fax server has multiple fax lines and calls to each line are routed separately (used 7% of the time).

Each of these other methods has the possibility of flaws: manual routing has human error, OCR has machine mis-readings of recipient names, DTMF has the extra requirement on the sender of punching in the extension number at the right time, and line routing is limited to only as many intended recipients as you have fax lines. So, DID is a clear winner, but again it is not always available with certain older phone systems.

What To Consider When Purchasing A Fax Server

  1. Does the server software integrate well with ERP programs from suppliers like SAP and Oracle?
  3. Is the server software compatible with your email?
  4. Is the server software compatible with your operating systems?
  6. Does it supports mixed-mode Internet and conventional faxing?
  8. Does the fax server provide rock-solid reliability?
  10. Does the server software support the inbound routing technique that you want to use?
  12. If your inbound routing choice is for DID, does the fax server support a DID fax boards?
  14. Do the management capabilities allow you to easily determine whether a fax transmission has been successfully completed and does it provide reports that show the status of each fax transmission?
  16. Is it easy to add users from your email system or other computerized log of employees?
  17. Does the fax server support Internet faxing?
  19. Is the client software easy to use?
  21. Is there adequately featured web fax software?
  23. Can sent faxes be automatically archived?
  25. Can you send multiple, mixed file attachments?
  27. Is receiving faxes simple and are there ways to automatically archive the files?

Internet Faxing

There are also conventional fax servers and IP fax servers. Conventional fax servers hook up to analog phone lines and use PSNT (public switched telephone network) to send and receive all fax calls. IP fax servers use the Internet to send all faxes and can receive all faxes via a gateway. Internet fax servers accounted for $44 million out of the $280 million total market for fax servers in 2006. They are forecast to gain primacy over conventional fax servers in 2009 and to grow at a 50.7% compound annual growth rate to $245 million in 2010.

In general, there are no major capability differences in a conventional and IP fax server. However, there is a difference in how they send a fax. A conventional fax server sends the fax over a conventional phone line, which involves a process called handshaking where the sending fax sends signals to the receiving machine to figure out how fast the transmission will take place, what compression method will be used, what error protection protocol will be used, etc. Then the call proceeds and when it ends, a confirmation (or an error report) is faxed back to the sending machine.

Internet fax transmissions goe over the Internet which creates a different environment from the PSTN. The Internet takes a call and puts pieces of each call into packets and sends them over different routes to the destination (a store-and-forward method of communication). With a fax call, this may mean sending a fax like an email so there is no handshake and the fax call does not receive a confirmation at the end of the session. Or else the fax call is sent in realtime (or almost real time) and a spoofing technique is used to fool the receiving fax machine that the call arrives in real time. This spoofing technique is key as a conventional fax call will fail at certain points during the handshake if a delay of just several milliseconds occurs. The receiving fax system must be fooled if a packet arrives out of order and is delayed. This delay factor has caused some concern among buyers that they won’t receive the same kind of performance from IP fax servers as from conventional fax servers.

The huge advantage of Internet fax servers are that they may be used without fax boards. This is accomplished with software-only Internet fax servers that use the microprocessors in Internet gateways and routers that corporations already have installed. Sales of these board-less systems amounted to more than three times the sales of Internet fax server sales that included fax boards. A second advantage to using FoIP (fax over IP) systems is that a company may eliminate any costs relating to using the public switched telephone network, including line charges and PBX ports. This is especially important to companies that have eliminated all their PSTN infrastructure relative to installing VoIP services. In the end, as time passes and vendors’ products pass the reliability tests, the fears about Internet fax servers will go away. Cantata Technology, the dominant fax board supplier, has brought out the Brooktrout SR140, a real-time fax-over-IP capability and many fax server vendors, including Esker, have supported the SR140 for over a year. As enterprises install the Esker version of the Internet fax server and see its reliable performance, sales will pick up steam. With so many enterprises moving to Internet voice, it is only a matter of time before the majority of fax server sales are for Internet fax servers. In the meantime, there is always the possibility of having a fax server support mixed conventional and Internet faxing.

Fax Boards

Fax boards are required with every conventional fax server. Fax boards handle the compression of images and they send and receive faxes. The great majority of fax board sales are for intelligent fax boards which have microprocessors on the boards that handle the very fastest of calculations that may cause fax transmissions to fail.

The first matter that a buyer must consider is what type of fax board to buy. Intelligent fax boards drive the highest completion percentages, but cost the most. These boards typically cost between $400 and $800 per port. So, for a 4-port fax server, a buyer can expect to pay as much as $3,200. For a 24-port server, a buyer is looking at an investment of about $14,000, for the fax boards alone. Buyers who are ready to take on the risks of using non-intelligent fax modems — including a lower percentage of fax calls that are completed and slower fax calls (due to slower handshaking, lack of bit stuffing, less efficient handshaking protocols) which translates directly to higher telephone bills — can acquire Class 1 and Class 2 fax modems that cost as little as $100 to $300 per port.

Most buyers decide to go with intelligent fax boards (in systems where fax devices are used, fax boards outsell fax modems by a ten to one margin), which gives an indication of how important a robust handshaking and call-completion capability is — and they end spending more than just the cost of the fax boards. Many intelligent fax board users also get an express exchange service, so if any of their fax boards fail, they can get a replacement within 24 hours. This adds about 15% to the cost of the fax boards.

A second option that fax board buyers have available is the capability to expand the number of ports just with a software key. This way, buyers do not need to go to a reseller to buy additional fax boards just to add a few ports. For instance, perhaps you want a 12-port fax board, and then when you begin to fax, you realize that you would like to have 16 ports. Generally speaking, the board that supports 12 ports can actually support up 24 ports. So, by getting a key from the manufacturer, buyers can expand the number of ports on their fax boards without going back to the reseller and buying a new board. This also costs more money, but less money than buying a new board and getting rid of the old one.

Fax Server Hidden Costs

Hidden costs are not just a matter of fax boards. A whole slew of hidden costs are involved with fax servers. These include costs for the following:


  1. Servers — on which the fax boards and fax software reside; depending on whether you dedicate a server to the fax function, this can cost well over $1,000 or can cost just hundreds if a server is shared. On top of the server hardware, the software (operating system) and the cost of securing this hardware in case of mission-critical faxing (clustering, stocking of a spare fax board, etc.) must be considered.
  3. PBX ports — to integrate fax server ports with PBX ports. These can cost hundreds of dollars apiece.
  5. Pre-installation consulting time — planning for large installations. Figure that this can cost about $300 per hour and involve up to a couple of days.
  7. Installation and configuration time — this is the time it takes to install the software on the server and the clients, the time to configure the software for each client,
  8. and the time to integrate the software with an enterprise application, and test the results.
  10. Per-administrator initial training time — the time to train network administrators to use and manage the fax server and then to train end users.
  12. Initial training time — the time it takes to train each end user at the average labor cost for end users and the cost for the trainer.
  14. DID one-time phone line installation charges — the setup of DID-enabled phone lines wherein, for example, there would be one phone line with 20 different phone numbers for 20 different users. Charges can be from about $0.50 per phone number to a $1.00 or more.
  16. Monthly phone line fee — the flat monthly fee charged by telephone companies for a single line or single T1 channel. These fees can range from about $10 to $30 per month.
  18. Monthly fees for DID numbers — also charged monthly by local telephone companies, the fees range from about $0.10 per month to about $0.30 per month per DID number.
  20. In-house support time — these are costs for administrator work for end-user help, patches, upgrades and system crashes.
  22. Vendor support and maintenance contracts — these contracts typically cost 15% of the initial cost of the fax server software per year.
  24. Cost of the up-front investment — these are the loan interest payments or the ‘opportunity cost’ of using cash to acquire fax server functionality instead of using it for some other purpose. Buyers should figure the cost at about 8% of total up-front purchase costs.
  26. Space rental — this is the cost to rent the space occupied by fax server equipment.


Fax Services

Internet fax services offer all the same capabilities as fax servers — without the hidden costs and without any requirement for fax boards. Enterprise Internet fax services are expected to grow by 26.8% compound annual growth rate to $440 million in 2010. Individual Internet fax services are expected to grow at 24.4% compound annual growth rate to $670 million in 2010. With these services, businesses get the ability to send and receive faxes, the capability to manage their fax activity and, at least with Esker service, the ability to integrate fax with their enterprise applications. Esker also offers the ability to send documents via postal mail.


With a service, buyers have low up-front investment and gain the option of flexible costs depending on how much traffic volume they have. No software need be installed, since all operations take place off web interface. The one difference with services is that they offer virtually unlimited capacity, so if an enterprise has one mammoth fax job, it can be easily handled. Conversely, if the enterprise were using a fax server, it would be constrained by the number of fax lines it had installed. It does not make sense to acquire more fax boards to handle just an occasional fax job, but if a company uses an Internet fax service, the capacity is there to handle every job. Another important aspect of fax services is the pay-as-you-go pricing model. The per-fax cost does not vary with the volume, as is the case with a fax server, because of the fixed cost of the fax infrastructure.

Does the service provide your company with all the functionality your business needs and does it provide rock-solid reliability? Does it integrate well with any enterprise or desktop as that you use? Is it possible to automatically archive each sent and received fax? Is the pricing easy to understand and is it acceptable in terms of its total cost? If you find acceptable answers to these questions, then perhaps a fax service will suit your business.

What To Consider When Choosing A Fax Service

  1. Does it integrate well with desktop and enterprise applications that you use?
  3. Does it provide management capabilities to allow your company to easily add and change users?
  5. Is the pricing easy to understand?
  7. Is the fax service easy to use?
  9. Does it provide all the functionality you need?
  11. Does it provide rock-solid reliability?
  13. Does it eliminate the need for in-house support?
  15. Is it possible to automatically archive each sent and received fax?
  17. Can you generate reports to determine the final status of all fax transmissions?
  18. Are there no hidden costs?


So Fax Server or Fax Service? If your customers and vendors expect faxes I guess you have to play the fax game. But with email and pdf…why?.

Ford's sweeping car redesign packs a lot of IT

Forgotten father of the search engine Jonathon Fletcher

(Joe Miller @ bbcnews) In 1993, the web was in its infancy. Mosaic, the first popular browser with an interface that resembles the ones we use today, had just been released, and the total amount of web pages numbered in the thousands.

But the question of how to find things on the web had not been solved.

Mosaic had a page called What's New, which indexed new websites as they were created.

The problem was that in order for developers at Mosaic to be aware of a new website, its creators would have to write to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - where the browser's team were based.

At about this time, Jonathon Fletcher was a promising graduate of the University of Stirling, with an offer to study for a PhD at the University of Glasgow.

Before he could take his place, funding at Glasgow was cut, and Mr Fletcher found himself at a loose end.

"I was suddenly very motivated to find a source of income," he recalls, "so I went back to my university and got a job working for the technology department."

It was in this job that he first encountered the world wide web and Mosaic's What's New page.

University of Stirling While working at at his alma mater, the University of Stirling, Jonathon Fletcher discovered the world of the web

'A better way'

While building a web server for the university, Fletcher realised the What's New page was fundamentally flawed.

Because websites were added to the list manually, there was nothing to track changes to their content. Consequently, many of the links were quickly out-of-date or wrongly labelled.

"If you wanted to see what had changed you had to go back and look," Mr Fletcher says of Mosaic's links.

"With a degree in computing science and an idea that there had to be a better way, I decided to write something that would go and look for me."

That something was the world's first web crawler.

Mr Fletcher called his invention JumpStation. He put together an index of pages which could then be searched by a web crawler, essentially an automated process that visits, and indexes, every link on every web page it comes across. The process continues until the crawler runs out of things to visit.

Ten days later, on 21 December 1993, JumpStation ran out of things to visit. It had indexed 25,000 pages.

To date, Google has indexed over a trillion pages.

Birth of search

Mr Fletcher quickly built an easy-to-navigate search tool for the index, stuck his website on Mosaic's What's New page, and the world's first modern search engine was in operation.

Start Quote

Google didn't come out until 1998 and what Jonathon was doing was in 1993”

Prof Mark Sanderson Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

"I would say that he is the father of the web search engine," says Prof Mark Sanderson of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, who has studied the history of information retrieval.

"There have obviously been computers doing searches for a very long time, and there were certainly search engines before the web. But Jonathon was the first person to create a search engine that had all the components of a modern search engine."

However, while Google's founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are household names, Mr Fletcher, who now lives in Hong Kong, has received little recognition for his role in the evolution of the internet.

The fact that his project was ultimately abandoned may not have helped.

As JumpStation grew, it required more and more investment - something which the University of Stirling was not willing to provide.

"It ran on a shared server," explains Mr Fletcher. "There wasn't a lot of disk space and back then disks were small and expensive."

Space control

By June of 1994, JumpStation had indexed 275,000 pages. Space constraints forced Mr Fletcher to only index titles and headers of web pages, and not the entire content of the page, but even with this compromise, JumpStation started to struggle under the load.

And so did Mr Fletcher. "It wasn't my job," he says. "My job was to keep the student labs running and do system administration and technology odd jobs."

What's New Page Mosaic's What's New page, pictured here months before JumpStation was founded, was a basic index of websites

A job offer to go and work in Tokyo proved too strong to resist, and the university did little to try and keep him, or JumpStation, from leaving.

"I was obviously not very successful in convincing them of its potential," says Mr Fletcher.

"At the time I did what I thought was right, but there have been moments in the last 20 years where I've looked back."

Prof Leslie Smith, head of Computing Science and Mathematics at the University of Stirling, who remembers Mr Fletcher, acknowledged that JumpStation "proved to be ahead of its time", and told the BBC that "colleagues at Stirling are delighted he is gaining the recognition he deserves for his achievements".

Looking forward

But despite the disappointment Mr Fletcher suffered, his pioneering technology would be the foundation of all subsequent web search engines.

"The web community in 1993 was very small," says Prof Sanderson. "Anybody who was doing anything on the web would've known about JumpStation.

"By the middle of 1994 it was becoming clear that web search engines were going to be very important. Google didn't come out until 1998 and what Jonathon was doing was in 1993."

Fletcher and others at SIGIR conference Jonathon Fletcher (centre) at a conference in Dublin earlier this year, where he was the guest speaker on a panel alongside Google and Yahoo! representatives

Mr Fletcher received some recognition for his achievements at a conference in Dublin a few weeks ago, where he was on a panel with representatives from Microsoft, Yahoo and Google. But in his speech, he talked about the future.

"In my opinion, the web isn't going to last forever," he told the audience. "But the problem of finding information is."

"The desire to search through content and find information is independent of the medium."

The current medium is making a lot of money for those who followed him, but the Scarborough-born pioneer has no regrets.

"My parents are proud of me, my children are proud of me, and that's worth quite a lot to me, so I'm quite happy."

Four Email Marketing Myths Exposed

Just like old wives’ tales, myths about what does and doesn’t work in email marketing can outlast unbelievers. We’ll let the medical establishment debate whether wet hair and cold weather gets you sick, but we think it’s time to set the record straight on some of the most common email marketing myths.

We sat down with Jerry Jao, the co-founder and chief executive of Retention Science, to clear the myth-filled air. His company helps small businesses keep customers around for the long haul by crunching marketing data. Jao says four myths seem to live on despite evidence that they’re not true and he’s more than happy to dispel them with numbers and facts.

Myth: Sending emails first thing in the morning is best

Many marketers insist that sending an email to a customer in the morning means they’ll open it as soon as they sit down at their computer. That has led to the general rule of thumb that the morning is the best time of day to send a marketing email. There may some logic behind the idea, says Jao, but it’s simply not true.

By combing though 100 million online transactions, 20 million user profiles and 100 email campaigns, Retention Science found that the afternoon is actually a better time to send an email. According to their research, most online shoppers are active later in the day but typically receive shopping-related promotional emails early in the morning. Other research supports this. At best, the rule of thumb about sending early is harmless. At worst, you’re killing your conversions.

Solve this conundrum by testing different times with similar or identical messages.

Myth: Emails sent on Mondays are the most successful

Sending emails on Monday is another rule of thumb that may have a logical underpinning but little in the way of convincing proof. Marketers assume that everyone has a case of the Monday blues. Since no one really wants to jump back into work, people are more likely to sift through their email on Monday, or so they think.

Retention Science’s data showed the opposite: Tuesday and Friday had the highest conversion rates. Test out different days to see if they make an impact on open rates and conversions.

Myth: More frequent email is better

If you send a bunch of emails to your customers they’re bound to open some of them, so why not send a dozen, right? Wrong. Jao says this is a common myth that needs debunking.

“It’s important to understand that less is more when it comes to email campaigns,” he says.

Of course, finding the right email frequency is tough. There isn’t a definitive number that works for every business, but Jao suggests testing your email frequency while watching unsubscribe rates to make sure you find the right balance.

Myth: Subject lines packed with info get opened

A subject line is important, no question about it. However, some people believe that packing a subject line full of information leads to high open rates. Untrue.

While you can squeeze about 70 characters into a subject line, that doesn’t mean you should. Rather than cramming the header full of words, focus on making the subject line conversational, Jao suggests.

“A subject line should sound like something a friend would say,” he says. “Don’t be wordy or pitchy, just be conversational.”

While there isn’t a plug-and-play formula to create a killer subject line, there are practices that you should avoid. Don’t use all capital letters, don’t be deceiving, ditch any symbols or emoticons, take it easy with punctuation and refuse to be boring. If you stay away from these no-nos, your open rates will improve.

When in doubt, A/B test your subject line to see what kind of wording works best for your customers. In fact, it’s a good takeaway message. Testing email content can give you statistics to back up your marketing moves, Jao says. It will not only give you an insight into the habits of your customers, but it will keep you from falling victim to marketing myths.

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.

Get IT and Biz on the Same Page With These Seven Questions

If you find it difficult to align your IT staff’s efforts with business goals, or see that IT staff don’t understand the philosophy by which you run your business, interject these questions in your next conversation with them. You don’t need to talk technology in this exchange, but communicate clearly the goals, objectives and targets you have in mind for your business and why you need the IT team’s cooperation to get there.

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Get Organized Now

With only a few tweaks, running your business could be easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful. And who could't use a little of that right now?

I think Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth, put it best: \"If you spend too much time working in your business, you won't have enough time to work on your business. That is, if all you have done is create a job for yourself, tha'ts a mistake. It is far better, and smarter, to figure out how to free yourself up to be 'more entrepreneur', 'less worker'.\" This is how we do it:

1. Plan your day at the end of the previous day: That way you can rest easy that night and hit the ground running the next day.  Begin by looking at what is coming up and then prioritize it. Make a list and try to follow it. That way, instead of events controlling you, you control them. You don’t want to spend your days putting out fires.

If you have a day planner, use it. If you use Outlook or a Blackberry instead, be sure to take advantage of their built-in organizational tools.

2. Get and learn the right software: There are so many time-saving productivity software tools out there that it is a mistake not to use and take advantage of them. Software makers spend an inordinate amount of effort on R&D, learning what it is we small business people need. They then create powerful software applications designed to fill those needs.

Buy them. Learn them. Use them.

The mistake many of us make (myself definitely included) is that we get this great software and never take the time to learn everything it can do for us. A day of training can make you far more organized and effective.

Check out project management software, or customer relationship software, etc. They can really help.

3. Don't be a slave to email: When I read that the author of The 4-Hour Work Week spent a little more than an hour a week on e-mail I was incredibly jealous. Few of us have figured out how to stop the onslaught of email to that degree, but even so, it is possible to be smarter about email:

  • Designate the amount of time a day you want to spend doing email and stick to it.
  • Set aside time for email once or twice a day, and again, stick to it.

The mistake some make is getting so caught up in email that they check it several times a day (or hour!)

4. Get your office organized: Constantly searching through stacks of papers and piles of notes is no way to run an office. Get the office supplies you need and put them where you will use them. Color-code files. Get a shredder. Buy a bigger file cabinet. Get an extra bookcase.

Organizing your office is one of the easiest, most affordable things you can do to be more productive.

5. Delegate: You don’t have to do everything yourself. Giving some of your workload to others will free you up to use your time better.

Especially now, anything you can do to be more productive is a smart move.

Good Cameras More than Megapixels

The more megapixels, the better the camera?
Many consumers focus too much on megapixel count when buying cameras. A 16MP camera has to be better than a 12MP camera, right?

Not necessarily.  Camera sensor quality is as much about physical sensor size as pixel amount.

A large 12MP sensor in a DSLR will produce better photos than a tiny 16MP sensor in a point-and-shoot.

To cram that many pixels onto a small sensor, manufacturers shrink the size of the pixels. Smaller, crowded pixels don't capture light as well as bigger pixels spread across a large sensor. The small sensor struggles to capture the tonal range of bright scenes and generates unwanted noise when used in low light.

Don't get me wrong; megapixels are important. Generally, having more megapixels leads to greater detail in images and allows you to make larger prints.

But the quality of the camera's lens and its on-board image processor is also very important.


Google Glass Might Help You Remember Names

Photo(Jim Hood @ ConsumerAffairs) A lot of people are pretty skeptical about Google Glass, saying the goofy-looking goggles have no redeeming social value. Ah, but what if they could recognize faces?

A company calls FacialNetwork is claiming it has the software to make that happen. It would be a real blessing for anyone who has trouble remembering names. And just think of the potential dating applications -- all you'd have to do is stare at someone, say the magic word and get their name, email and -- I dunno -- Facebook profile or whatever.

And, sure enough, that's what FacialNetwork is promising. It calls the product NameTag and says it uses some of the most accurate facial recognition software in the world to grab faces using Google Glass' camera, send that face wirelessly to a server, compare it to millions of records and in seconds return a match complete with a name, additional photos and social media profiles. is also currently creating technology to allow the scanning of profile photos from dating sites such as, and The technology would also allow users to scan photos against the more than 450,000 entries in the National Sex Offender Registry and other criminal databases.

A brave new world

"I believe that this will make online dating and offline social interactions much safer and give us a far better understanding of the people around us," said NameTag's creator Kevin Alan Tussy.  "It's much easier to meet interesting new people when we can simply look at someone, see their Facebook, review their LinkedIn page or maybe even see their dating site profile. Often we were interacting with people blindly or not interacting at all. NameTag on Google Glass can change all that."

This all sounds great, at least to those who think such ideas aren't completely loathsome. But so far Google remains unconvinced.

Google has said that facial recognition will not be supported for Glass. Tussy thinks this is due to pressure from privacy groups but he thinks that when it seriously considers the "vast societal benefits," Google will eventually reconsider.

"There will be many providers of augmented reality headsets and even if facial recognition is not supported by some, I'm confident that there will be solutions for such limitations. We are not publishing any information about of our financiers or investors at this time but I will say that we are involved with some very well-respected individuals and venture funds," said Tussy.

Google Map Awesome Features

(Julian Meeks @ StreetWiseTech) Getting lost is not an enjoying moment and these days, it get a lot harder. But now that technology has risen to a level that it even provides you a map for free, getting lost is a little less hard, unless you find it difficult to read a map. But the latter should be a piece of cake. Most mobile phones are designed to support Google Maps, whether you are using an Android, iOS, or Windows powered phone. Some devices already have Google Maps installed by default, but in other devices, you will need to download it through the respective app store.

Google Maps is now updated with new features for the iOS and Android Apps, which are designed to improve not only navigating the streets by foot but also giving the most relative advice in commuting by train, car service or automobile. It meant to reduce day to day challenges in looking for the best route when going from point A to point B.


Driving Instructions

With the use of your smart phone, Google Maps will suggest to you which lane should you take, switch to or stay put. GPS was the first option for navigating roads but because of its delays in giving warnings, it can get frustrating. It can get dangerous when a warning is only given the minute after it is suggested to do so, only to see that swerving to another lane proved dangerous because of incoming vehicles. The newly updated feature reduces those frustrations and make it easier and safer for you to navigate. By tapping onto the guide, it will pop up slides of recommended routes to take.

Save Locations Offline

This feature has already been around since Google Maps was first introduced but the latest update showed an integrated design, making it easier to navigate. You will be able to save and label your selected maps in a specific location. This will be easier to look for the maps you saved while being on the move.

Specific Arrival and Departure Times

People who rely their daily commute on trains and buses know very well that the services differ depending on the time of the day. The latest update enables users to search for a specific departure and arrival times that is suited to your schedule. It takes into account the timing keys and also inform you the time the last bus or train will depart at night.

Google Penguin Update by Matt Carter

Recently Google released yet another change which is being referred to as the “Google Penguin” update. Sounds very cute, much like the friendly Google Panda…yeah right!!

In this post I want to discuss this latest update, and once again address some common concerns, as I seem to be getting a lot of worried people contacting me after their sites got hit hard by Google over the past few months.

So What is Google Penguin?

Penguin was an update to the Google algorithm that was released on the 24th of April, with intention of apparently penalizing sites for over-optimization, otherwise known as spamming. The first thing I want to say is that its early days, and no one knows exactly what this update was precisely targeting, but nonetheless I will do my best to share some insight, as I can happily say that I actually experienced a positive increase or no change across the board on all my websites after this update, and also after the latest Panda update which happened the week prior.

First off, we can start to get an understanding of this update by reading what Google officially states about it. If you read the Google Webmaster blog it says this:

“The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.”

OK so as you would expect Google doesn’t spell it out for everyone, but rather provides a very vague overview and focusses on their overall intention with the update. The key things that we can take from this statement I believe are “high quality sites” and “good user experience“, nothing we didn’t all know already, but who’s actually doing it is more to the point.

One can safely assume that this update, after reading the full Google blog post, was looking at keyword stuffing in content, as Google gives  a really over the top example of what this looks like. The example is a poor one, as that sort of keyword stuffing has been slapped by Google for years, so I guess it’s some level of more critical analysis of over use of keywords in your On Page SEO that this update was targeting. With that said, you might want to pay attention to how your content uses keywords and make it look natural. Golden rule for all SEO, make it look natural if it isn’t totally natural!!

The Good Old User Experience

I’ve been harping on about the user experience on this blog a fair bit over the past few months, and you guessed it, I’m going to continue to do so, as I keep seeing sites that get slapped by Google, where the webmasters are shocked and have no idea why. In most cases when I look at these sites, I can see glaringly obvious reasons, as the sites are clearly not designed for the user at all.

I want to also add this quote from Matt Cutts (head of Google Anti-Spam team):

“We want people doing white hat search engine optimization (or even no search engine optimization at all) to be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling web sites. As always, we’ll keep our ears open for feedback on ways to iterate and improve our ranking algorithms toward that goal.”

…”even no optimization at all…” yeah right, and pigs may just fly one day too!

Also its important to note that Google Panda 3.5 was also rolled at a week prior to the Penguin update, around the 17th of April, so if you lost a significant amount of traffic around that date, then you were most likely ‘Pandalized’ rather than ‘Penguinalized!!!!’

Oh and let’s not forget the 750,000 unnatural backlink warning messages that Google sent out prior to these changes, warning webmasters to remove links that were acquired through unnatural means…what an interesting few months its been!

Google is on the Aggressive

Ok so it doesn’t take a genius to notice that Google is on the aggressive right now, trying their hardest to remove spam from the results and level the playing the field for SEO. I ‘ve never experienced this many changes so closely related than what we are seeing now.

One thing that I must say I find pretty frustrating is that Google tells us not to do much if any SEO, other than make your sites easier to crawl etc…and when it comes to offpage SEO they expect it to happen naturally. The problem for the small guys and gals doing web marketing is that it’s virtually impossible to get enough exposure in the first place so that other webmasters even know about our sites to even consider linking to you. Sure large brands don’t have to worry as they already have a following.

So I don’t think the playing field is that level when Google does the changes they make, but regardless we have to play by their rules as closely as we can, or pay the price of getting no traffic from Google.

So with that said, in light of all the carnage going on out there right now, here’s some suggestions that might help:

Build Sites that Don’t Look Optimized

If Google wants people to just blog away and build affiliate marketing sites or stores etc…without doing any significant SEO, then we really need to mimic this as closely as possible. If you take a look at a few dozen sites ranking in Google now for various keywords, ask yourself if you think they are doing careful On Page SEO or not.

It’s really not that hard to spot, just look at some of the titles of pages on sites and ask yourself if these look like they were written with the keyword in mind or the topic in mind. Of course you will see some junk that is ranking and ask yourself how this got there, but just overlook that as Google will remove the junk eventually, so don’t get caught up on that just focus on good quality yourself.

Also have a look at all the content on the sites and ask yourself if the topics were written with keywords in mind or with topics in mind. Of course if you want to get traffic to your sites, you really have to do keyword research, and then target these keywords, however do it as natural looking as you can, so you still target keywords but fly under the radar!

Create Sites that Will Naturally Get Good Signals

If you focus on building great quality sites, that your traffic will love, then they will naturally want to bookmark your site and share it on Facebook and Google Plus. Not only that though, they will most likely come back again and also search for your site in Google using the site name. Ideally you want your site to get a lot of searches for its name, as it’s a clear signal to Google that people like it. Other good signals are the time on your site, low bounce rate, high average page view etc…

The only way you stand any chance of getting these “good signals” happening on your site is if you actually have a good site, not rocket science really. The problem is that good sites take effort and time and a lot of people can’t be bothered, and instead continue to put up low quality thin sites, and try all sorts of things to dodge the Google bullets, but honestly it’s all a waste of time in the long run, trust me I’m speaking from experience.

Google are only going to roll out more and more updates like Penguin and Panda, who knows maybe the next one will be called “Google Poodle”, ha ha, then you can say your site was “Poodlized!!! In all seriousness though, the sooner you move towards managing less sites, and focussing on higher quality, and thinking about the user experience, that better you will do in Google.

Off Page SEO Can’t Hurt Your Sites…Or Can It?

Ok so here comes the bombshell, Google sent out all these unnatural link warning to webmasters over the past few months, and sites who got them experiences a drop in rankings. The result is that many webmasters frantically started to remove any links they thought Google might frown upon and then submit for a reconsideration. I assume many SEO companies got dropped by webmasters, only to be replaced by news ones who get on their high horse and claim they are pure whitehat SEO and all will go well if the webmaster is to choose them…I doubt it…no one is 100% whitehat.

So why is this a bombshell then? Well the obvious question is, “if low quality backlinks to your sites can harm them, can’t we all go out and build a bunch of low quality links to our competitors?”

My response to this used to be “No way, if Google allowed this it could well create total chaos online”

My response now is “I’m not sure anymore, and I am starting to think low quality links combined with a lack of good signals coming off your site may well cause problems for you!”

I don’t think these recent changes in regards to backlinks will cause widespread chaos by any means, the reason being that chaos, I assume, would mean the likes of Amazon could be taken down, or other well established authority brands. I don’t think will ever happen, as these kinds of sites have way too many good signals for Google to ditch them, and the same goes for much smaller, yet quality sites too.

So what about sites that are ranking well but don’t have many “good signals”, are these open for attack from this negative SEO? I can’t definitely say, but my assumption is that possibly yes, if the negative campaign against them is particularly nasty in nature and well planned out. I sincerely discourage anyone from getting involved in these tactics, as it’s not the way to win a battle, and we would all not like it if someone did it to us.

Avoid Obvious Forced Linking

I encourage people, if you are using forced link building, and I think most of us will have to, make sure you don’t use overly spammy links, such as mass auto-blog comments, profile links, very public blog networks etc…anything that is really obvious and easy for Google to spot as forced linking. Also do your best to create content and tools, anything that will increase the chances of people linking to you naturally.

Also if you create a decent following in your niche this will happen much more easily. I think the key is to use linking as much as you need to, to gain momentum, but don’t rely on forced linking only, otherwise your site will not look natural.


To close this post I want to leave this final thought, spend time analyzing high quality sites in various niches, and take notes on how they make the user experience a good one, and do your best to employ as many of these techniques on your own sites.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be super grateful if you would shar on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus below.


Google Will NIX AutoPlay Video Ads

On the list of things that annoy consumers when browsing the web, autoplay videos -- which start playing on their own while you are reading an article or searching -- are near the top. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to search through all of your browser tabs to find the source of a loud soft drink or foot cream video advertisement.

Luckily, Google Chrome users may not need to worry about these intrusive ads much longer. Google announced that, starting with Chrome 64, autoplay videos will only be allowed to pop up if they won’t play sound or when a user has indicated that they have an interest in the media by clicking somewhere on the screen.

“This will allow autoplay to occur when users want media to play, and respect users’ wishes when they don’t,” said Google software engineer Mounir Lamouri in a company blog post.

In addition to the Chrome 64 changes, Lamouri announced a new feature for Chrome 63 that will allow users to completely disable audio for individual sites. Sites that have been muted will retain that status between different sessions, so users won’t have to worry about it every time they go to browse.

“These changes will give users greater control over media playing in their browser, while making it easier for publishers to implement autoplay where it benefits the user,” Lamouri concluded.

Developer recommendations

Of course, consumers aren’t the only ones that will need to be apprised of these changes. On its Chromium Projects page, Google explains that developers will likely need to revise their use of autoplay videos to get the most out of them.

In its developer recommendations, the company says that autoplay videos should be used sparingly to engage users, as unwanted video playback can often turn users off to a particular site.

Additionally, the company says that developers who have shied away from autoplay might consider using muted content to warm users up to the idea of exploring additional content.  

The new autoplay functions are slated to roll out in January 2018.

Google and Samsung just unveiled the first Chromebook you might actually want to buy


(Christopher Mims @mims) Google has slowly but very deliberately encroached on territory previously claimed by Windows PCs: low-cost notebooks. Now its latest Chromebook may pose a threat to Apple’s dominance of the higher-end market.

Previously, Google’s Chrome operating system has mostly been confined to sub-$300, bare-bones notebooks, aimed at schools, students, or people looking for a simple laptop for basic tasks like email and light web-browsing.

The problem with most of Chrome OS-powered laptops put out by Google’s hardware partners (which include HP, Lenovo, ASUS and just about all the other PC makers) is that they weren’t really suitable for more intensive users as a primary PC (because of limited memory, small or low-quality screens, or slow processing speeds). The one exception was Google’s own Chromebook Pixel, which costs $1,300 and hasn’t been updated in over a year.

It’s clear, however, that Google is determined to make Chrome a full-fledged OS on par with Microsoft Windows. When I visited Google’s Mountain View headquarters last year, I noticed that everyone working at Google who wasn’t a developer was using a Chromebook Pixel.

Samsung’s Chromebook 2 delivers

For the first time, it appears that one of Google’s hardware partners is ready to offer the low-cost but full-fledged notebook that would be required to deliver on that ambition. As Wired put it, this new notebook is “almost a real laptop.”

The new Samsung Chromebook 2 comes in two sizes: a $400 13.3-inch model with a screen of the same resolution as a true high-definition TV; and a $320 11.6-inch version. Both run on a fast mobile processor, Samsung’s Exynos, which will also appear in some models of the company’s flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone.

These notebooks don’t have much storage—just 16GB—but that hardly matters, because the point of a Chromebook is that you’ll probably access the vast majority of your data and apps in the cloud (whether Google’s or elsewhere). Importantly, both models have 4GB of RAM, which is probably the minimum you’d want to have a bunch of browser tabs open without the Chromebook slowing to a crawl.

Will a smartphone processor do the trick?

It’s easy to look at Samsung’s new Chromebooks and say “well, they’re not that powerful compared to their Windows and Apple Macintosh equivalents”—and that’s absolutely true. But Google’s Chrome OS is also a much more lightweight operating system than either Windows’ or Mac’s. This means (according to my own testing and numerous reviews) that Chromebooks don’t require that much horsepower to function at more or less the same apparent speed as competing operating systems on more powerful notebooks.

Overall, the trend in how people get things done is moving away from PCs and towards tablets and phones. But the Chrome OS has the potential to capture a significant portion of the laptop market even as the total size of the pie shrinks—after all, most of us still prefer a keyboard and a trackpad for getting “real” work done.

In other words, if a $400 13-inch Samsung Chromebook is, for most everyday users, just as functional as an $1,100 13-inch Macbook Air—but the Chromebook has a better display—Google and Samsung could have a hit on their hands.

Chrome OS is outgrowing its dependence on the cloud

There’s one other thing that Google is just starting to implement that’s going to be very important to the future of Chrome OS—applications that live on the Chromebook itself, and run locally, instead of running from the cloud. This is a shift in direction from Google’s original cloud-only strategy for the Chrome OS, but it’s a reflection of the reality that we’re not always on a fast connection to the internet, and constantly re-downloading apps in our web browser is a waste of precious (and often metered) mobile bandwidth.

These “packaged apps” are not unlike apps on mobile devices or any Mac or Windows PC. And with their introduction, Google has made it possible for developers to create software that works much more like the kind of (mobile and desktop) apps most people are accustomed to.

Chromebooks represent only 1% of all PCs sold in 2013. But the more missteps Microsoft makes, and the more Google comes to dominate mobile computing in general, the more competitive Chromebooks could become. If nothing else, Google has, through constant improvement of both the hardware and software sides of the Chromebook, demonstrated a commitment to the platform. And Google, with its massive revenue from other businesses, can afford to be patient.

Google+ Facebook Twitter and the future of search engine optimization

by William Harrell

Much has been said about social networking and how it will effect the way we communicate going forward. However some fail to realize how it’s going to effect other things, for instance search optimization and online advertising.

Years ago banner ads were taboo. If you had them on your site then you obviously did not know about the glorious world of Google Adwords. Everyone soon switched to the Google Ad platform and used the paid ads on search platform to boost bottom lines and make life easier. Some companies like Zappos for instance have well documented cases where they relied very heavily on paid ad placement to drive sales. Organic search placement was placed on the back burner and paying to play became the norm.

Now we are in a new era, one where mobile and social will rule the search world. Localization through different channels will be the norm for all good SEO plans going forward and some out of the box thinking will have to be applied to get companies in the position to reap the benefits of mobile search. For instance, if an Apple iPhone user is using the “Siri” search to look for a hamburger place, Siri will use to find restaurants close to that person using the GPS coordinates in their phone. So if your hamburger joint’s SEO plan does not include localization using 3rd party sites like Yelp, meaning only using the major search engines like Google & Bing then your website might not even come up using this method.

Lets talk about social influencing search. Google+ and the +1 feature seems to be a simple way to give a page a little extra klout. What we are really looking at is the evolution of search. Having a social account with a number of influential friends will not only give you tons to read in the form of cute sayings and status updates about other peoples days, you will also get their recommendations (or +1′s) when you are searching. So two people, in the same location, of the same exact demographic will one day produce a completely different search and there is nothing you can do as far as traditional search optimization to stop it. Do not be too worried about your ad placement however because new avenues will open up in the form of paid status updates, mobile ad networks and social network ad placement which will take the place of the mobile Siri search that didn’t include your business.

Marketing your business online has never been easier and there has never been more ways to do it. The trick is finding a company that can use all these new and innovative techniques to engage customers and make them want to be involved with your brand enough to share your message and advocate your brand. This is what the new social web search will be about.

Greg Allen Performance Review Fenner Dunlop Americas

2016 Annual Performance Review of Greg Allen IT Systems Analyst - Lavonia
Conducted by MIS Director Tim Redmond (Supervisor) and Plant Maintenance Manager Dowell Morgan (Maintenance Manager)

Safety Awareness : Solid Performer

Supervisor: Follows all Fenner Safety Guidelines. Greg is always Safety Aware, and ensures visitors and vendors comply with FDA safety rules. He has learned and participated in the Hazard ID program and takes Safety as the serious topic that it is.

Maintenance Manager: Greg is positive towards safety and supports the Hazard ID program. He reports potential hazards or breaches of security plans while in the workplace. He responds positively to safety-oriented feedback.

Team Work : Exceptional Performer

Supervisor: As a relative newcomer to Fenner, Greg has quickly become an integral member of the Lavonia plant team and a good contributing member of the It department. He has jumped in attending the weekly plant operations meetings and established a good working relationship with Maintenance and Engineering groups. Feedback from the Plant Manager is very positive about Greg and his contribution to date

Maintenance Manager: Greg is an outstanding team player. He has been very receptive to me and my team. He tends to set goals, time lines, and follows up routinely.

Customer Focus : Solid Performer

Supervisor: Greg knows his customers and advocates well for them in IT related situations. He established a good report with key department mangers, plant manager, and superusers, and integrated himself with all things IT at the Lavonia plant.

Maintenance Manager: Greg seeks and listens to customer’ needs, suggestions, and feedback. He will usually have an answer for the needs of our team.

Communication : Exceptional Performer

Supervisor: Greg is a seasoned IT veteran and knows how to communicate well with both users and management. He listens well and is open to new ideas to solving business and precess problems. He is sensitive to user’s needs, but mindful of It standards and how to steer users to good solutions by researching and communicating possible technology solutions where appropriate. Feed back from Plant Management has been very positive regarding Greg’s communication and contributions to date.

Maintenance Manager: Greg transfers thoughts and expresses ideas in oral and written form. He tends to do his homework then gives appropriate suggestions or solutions in clear and precise solution to sustain a compelling and inspiring vision.

Behavioral Indications : Solid Performer

Supervisor: Greg is taking on this new position in Lavonia with good initiative and hard work. He is integrating well with his peers and transforming the IT position to be more of an innovator than just reactive. He is bringing new ideas for more effective production monitoring and cost savings with open source alternatives. We look forward to doing some new and different solutions with technology in the coming years.

Additional Thought: Greg has implemented a Maintenance System, in place of the Reactive System, so that systems and users can operate at peak levels without equipment downtime.

Maintenance Manager: Greg uses practical methods which improve doing things to solve problems and/or improve processes. He is action oriented and full of energy, focused on solving issues for things he/she sees as challenging.

Functional Technical Skills : Exceptional Performer

Supervisor: Greg brings good technical knowledge and experience to his position. FDA an IT perspective, he has all the qualifications we need (computers, networks, etc.) He has good Information Systems background and is eager to learn the ins and outs of E9. This will become and increasing part of his roll as we move forward and we are planning on bolstering his Epicor knowledge with training and programming/reporting assignments.

Additional Thoughts: Greg has drastically reduced downtime through system monitoring, maintenance, and user education.

Maintenance Manager: Greg thinks of ways to apply new developments to improve organizational performance of our employee's as well as the machines. He has the functional competence, knowledge and skills to advance our plant to where we need to be over the next five years.

Drives for Success : Exceptional Performer

Supervisor: Greg shows good energy and drive and is very enthusiastic about technology and its application to help solve precess and business problems. On of his first big challenges was to help move the Beaming Calculations protect along when it had a tendency to become stalled when users competing priories got in the way. He was able to walk the users through required testing and understanding of a technical enhancement to E9 and bring the project to completion. He also did a good ob sticking with the troubleshooting of the Communications Displays where a problem was persisting in having them work properly. He kept driving until the vendor finally recognized that there was a problem in their devices and worked up a permanent fix at no charge to Fenner.

Maintenance Manager: Greg demonstrates sustained effort and enthusiasm to get the job done. He delivers results and holds others accountable through-out the precess and completes on a timely manner.

Integrity and Trust : Exceptional Performer

Supervisor: Greg has shown the he an be a mediator at times and hold an open and honest position about problems and their potential solutions. He is good at holding to department standards and keeping appropriate confidential material. He is establishing a good reputation for honesty and fairness. I hold all It department members to a high standard in this category and Greg meets those high standards fully.

Additional Thoughts: So much of what we do in IT is never seen or understood by the folks we work for. Always Faithful In Little Or Much is the mantra to live by.

Maintenance Manager: Greg stays true to his values, communicates honestly and openly. Doesn’t have any hidden agenda.

Concluding Comments

Supervisor: Greg is new to Fenner, but a veteran of the IT industry for over 20 years.

He brings new and different ideas for solving business and process problems with various forms of Technology. I look forward to incorporate Greg and his experience more heavily into FDA IT tasks and decisions.

Maintenance Manager: I enjoy working with Greg. He has been of great help to me these last few months.


Greg Allen Resume 9/1/2017

Resume 9/1/2017
Gregory M. Allen
PO Box

Fair Play, SC 29643
(864) 539-6206

See ProNet Video



Group and Organize Your Start Screen Tiles in Windows 8

(Jill Duffy PC Mag) Keeping your computer organized and your desktop clutter-free can be pretty difficult. And with last week's official release of Windows 8, users have another screen they need to get used to organizing—the new Metro-style Start Screen. It uses large rectangular or square tiles in place of the standard icons you've seen on older Windows operating systems. For better organization and grouping, you can group similar items onto a page (similar to many smartphones), you increase or decrease the size of any particular tiles, and you can remove tiles that you rarely use

For better organization and grouping, you can group similar items onto a page (similar to many smartphones), you increase or decrease the size of any particular tiles, and you can remove tiles that you rarely use.

All of these options and more are showcased in the video below.



Even though I am not new to Windows by any stretch—it's an operating systems with which I've developed a deep and complicated love-hate relationship since the mid 1990s—I have been struggling with not only how to arrange the tiles on Windows 8 thematically, but also physically how to do it.

Get OrganizedThat's all to say that this article takes a pretty elementary approach. If you consider yourself a Windows power user, stop reading here and instead check out Michael Muchmore's Super Guide to Windows 8.

Windows 8 Tile Organization

Background. Windows 8's user interface looks remarkably different from prior versions of Windows. Instead of clicking on desktop icons to get to your favorite programs, you'll find "tiles" on a new Start screen. You can rearrange these tiles, just as you can organize app icons on most smartphones.

Download and install apps before organizing existing ones. Before you start rearranging the placement of tiles to your liking, I recommend downloading a few apps first. The reason? Some apps are one-by-one squares, while others are rectangular and twice as wide as they are tall. See the image above. Notice how the tiles for Wikipedia, StumbleUpon, and Goals are twice as wide as any of the others. You can shrink a rectangular tile to the square dimensions to make it fit more neatly if you like (which I'll explain how to do on the next page).

Plopping a double-wide tile into an organized set can throw the whole thing off. So try to get a bunch of tiles on your plate before you start moving them around.

Tip: Any time you can't find something, try hovering on the right side of the screen, or swiping from right to left on a touch-screen tablet or PC, or use Windows key+C on the keyboard to uncover "Charms," which notably include the Search button.)

Organize by themes or workflow? Some people like to organize their apps by theme, grouping together programs that accomplish similar feats, but I think a better rationale is to group by workflow.

On all my devices, I tend to cluster apps according to how often I use them and which ones I use in conjunction with others.

Methods for arranging tiles on the screen. There are many ways to organize your apps, and I'll explain three of them here.

First I'll share the way I do it. I put high-use apps onto "hotspot" sections of the screen, or areas where I am likely to put my fingers or reach with my mouse first. For me, these areas tend to be in the lower left and upper right corners. For many touch screen users, the hotspots are vertical areas along the left and right sides, near your thumbs when you're holding the device.

Another way to order your apps is to slot them by use in grid formation, left to right and top to bottom.

A third solution: Cluster by workflow. For example, set all your office tiles together, maybe adding the "print management" tile to that group, too. Another example would be to group leisure apps, like games and Web discovery tools, together but also out of sight so that you're not distracted by them when you're trying to be productive.

You can arrange your tiles however you like, of course.

Which brings us to this question: How do you physically move tiles around the Windows 8 Start screen? It's not completely intuitive on a touch screen device.

How to Move Windows 8 Tiles

On the previous page, I recommended downloading some apps before you start arranging them. As you download them, some appear as tiles on your start screen and others do not. So where are the rest?

Windows 8 Find missing tiles. To see all your tiles, go to the start screen and swipe up. A blue-green bar will pop up at the bottom. Press the "All apps" button.

Add tiles to the start screen. Find the program you want to add to your start screen. Gently press it, pull down, and release it (have patience, as it takes practice to get this rhythm right). A check mark will appear, and the app will be highlighted in a blue-green rectangle. Another bar appears at the bottom of the screen. The leftmost button says Pin to Start (or Unpin from Start if it's already on the start screen). Press that, and viola.

Make rectangular tiles into squares. To change a double-wide rectangular tile into a square, gently press, pull down, and release the tile, then look for the button on the bottom that says Smaller. You can revert back to the rectangular shape using the same action. Not all tiles can change dimension, although rectangular tiles can always become squares and can always be restored to the rectangular shape.

Rearranging tiles. Back on the start screen, you'll use the same motion as before—press gently, pull down, release—to rearrange your tiles. Tiles again have a blue-green highlight and check mark on them when they're active and ready to be dragged around to a new place. To move a tile to an area that's not visible on your start screen, just drag it all the way to the edge of the screen, until the viewer slides over.

Rearrange grouped tile sets. As you arrange your tiles, you'll notice they cluster into sets. You can tell a set because it's defined by a larger margin area. To move these tiles en masse, first zoom out by pressing Ctrl- or holding Ctrl while using the mouse wheel (or "unpinch" on a touch screen). Again, use that three-step motion—gently press, drag down, release—to select the group. You can now drag it wherever you like. You can also name each group using the bar at the bottom.

Finally, to create new group, swipe up on a tile and drag it right past all existing groups.

More Windows 8 Info

Whether you dig the new Windows 8 or not, tiles are central to the experience (although there are third-party apps that can suppress the new Start screen if you really dislike it). So set them up into organized groups that make sense for you, whether by theme or some other logic.

HDMI Splitters

HDMI Splitters

An HDMI Splitter is used to take a single source (such as a BlueRay Player, Cable Box, or Satellite box) and distribute that HDMI signal to multiple TVs.  Most splitters if needed can also be cascaded to further expand such splitting capability.  The use of a higher-grade cable when using a splitter is highly recommended due to the added resistence of connecting your devices through multiple ports.  A splitter should not be confused with an HDMI SWITCH (which is used to connect multiple HDMI source devices to a single TV).

The most common splitter is a "1:2" - or "one to two".  The most common use for such splitter is to attach to a cable or satellite box, and split (or distribute) such signal to 2 TVs located in different locations.  All of today's modern splitters support most of the HDMI version 1.4A specifications.  Splitters can NOT support ARC (audio return channel) and HEC (HDMI over Ethernet) as the properties of these features require that the source device be dedicated to a single TV.

 Splitters can generally be used up to 50ft from the splitter location to the TV providing that high-quality HDMI cables are used.  A maximum distance of 25ft from the source device to the splitter is recommended.  Longer distance from the splitter to a TV can be obtained using our REDMERE HDMI Cables orFiber Optic HDMI Cables.  An HDMI cable is attached to the source device's (such as a cable box) OUTPUT port and the other end to the splitter's INPUT port.  HDMI cables are then attached to each of the splitter's OUTPUT ports to each of the TV's.  Normally, a general duty 28AWG cable could be used for shorter distances.  However, our FLEX EXTREME cables are recommended when using HDMI splitters to minimize resistence.

Splitter Limitations

The use of splitters does have some caveats.  If the resolution capability on one (or more) of the TVs being split to is different (for example, if one TV supports 1080P, and the other only 720P), the splitter must drop the split resolution to that lower resolution.  Both TVs (while powered on) will thus drop to 720P.  However, if the lower resolution TV is powered off, the splitter will re-scan the destination displays and support the original higher resolution ignoring the powered off TV.

Signal converters (such as HDMI to VGA or HDMI to Component Video) may not properly work when with a splitter.  The splitter attempts to perform a "handshake" looking back at the source device (such as a BlueRay player), and ahead to all destination devices (such as your TVs).  When a converter is introduced after the splitter en-route to the TV, the splitter on MOST OCCASSIONS can not successfully determine the proposed resolution and signal type that the converter is programmed to output.  Certain splitters will however successfully work with certain converters, but we have not been able to find a definitive combination of such products that will always work properly together.

A splitter can NOT be used in reverse.  If you have multiple HDMI devices that you are trying to connect and your TV is short an HDMI INPUT port, use a SWITCHinstead.

Splitters and 3D

If you are using a splitter to send a signal to a 3D TV, and then are trying to send the OTHER signal to a receiver (to capture AUDIO), the 3D signal MAY not be supported.  The splitter (using HDCP digital content protection rules) first completes a "handshake" to each of the destination devices to determine what resolution and features are being used.  This handshake information is then sent back to the splitter to determine what resolution - and if a 3D image can be split successfully.

If you are splitting a 3D signal to TWO TVs, and one of the powered on TVs does NOT support 3D (or the 3D capability is of a different technology), the splitter again must automatically drop the 3D capability and provide a signal that is supported by both powered on TVs.  This is not a splitter design deficiency - but an electronic property of the HDCP (copy protection) rules that all splitters must adhere to.


Splitting an HDMI signal provides for the following support for all our current splitter versions:

  • Support for concurrent TV usage - meaning both TVs can be on at the same time without violating HDCP rules, or content licenses providing that signal is being split into the same house-hold, or same business location.  All TVs are not required to be powered on at the same time, however.

  • 3D Support - provided BOTH display devices being split to BOTH support 3D and the 3D technology is of similar type (ie passive vs active).  If ONE (or more) of the displays does NOT support 3D signally, such display (or receiver) can be powered off and 3D capability will be restored to the remaining TV.  You may have to power cycle the splitter to achieve this.

  • All major audio formats are supported - DTS (HD) Master Audio 6 channel, LPCM (2 and 8 channel), Dolby Digital AC3, Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus

  • Long distance support - The length of cable from the source device to the splitter should be no longer than 25ft.  The BEST possible HDMI cable should be used for this length.  From the splitter to a destination TV, the maximum recommend length is 50ft using conventional or REDMERE HIGH SPEED HDMI cables.  Lengths beyond 50ft have been successful using our FIBER OPTIC HDMI cables


HDMI Splitters

HDMI Splitters

An HDMI Splitter is used to take a single source (such as a BlueRay Player, Cable Box, or Satellite box) and distribute that HDMI signal to multiple TVs.  Most splitters if needed can also be cascaded to further expand such splitting capability.  The use of a higher-grade cable when using a splitter is highly recommended due to the added resistence of connecting your devices through multiple ports.  A splitter should not be confused with an HDMI SWITCH (which is used to connect multiple HDMI source devices to a single TV).

The most common splitter is a "1:2" - or "one to two".  The most common use for such splitter is to attach to a cable or satellite box, and split (or distribute) such signal to 2 TVs located in different locations.  All of today's modern splitters support most of the HDMI version 1.4A specifications.  Splitters can NOT support ARC (audio return channel) and HEC (HDMI over Ethernet) as the properties of these features require that the source device be dedicated to a single TV.

 Splitters can generally be used up to 50ft from the splitter location to the TV providing that high-quality HDMI cables are used.  A maximum distance of 25ft from the source device to the splitter is recommended.  Longer distance from the splitter to a TV can be obtained using our REDMERE HDMI Cables orFiber Optic HDMI Cables.  An HDMI cable is attached to the source device's (such as a cable box) OUTPUT port and the other end to the splitter's INPUT port.  HDMI cables are then attached to each of the splitter's OUTPUT ports to each of the TV's.  Normally, a general duty 28AWG cable could be used for shorter distances.  However, our FLEX EXTREME cables are recommended when using HDMI splitters to minimize resistence.

Splitter Limitations

The use of splitters does have some caveats.  If the resolution capability on one (or more) of the TVs being split to is different (for example, if one TV supports 1080P, and the other only 720P), the splitter must drop the split resolution to that lower resolution.  Both TVs (while powered on) will thus drop to 720P.  However, if the lower resolution TV is powered off, the splitter will re-scan the destination displays and support the original higher resolution ignoring the powered off TV.

Signal converters (such as HDMI to VGA or HDMI to Component Video) may not properly work when with a splitter.  The splitter attempts to perform a "handshake" looking back at the source device (such as a BlueRay player), and ahead to all destination devices (such as your TVs).  When a converter is introduced after the splitter en-route to the TV, the splitter on MOST OCCASSIONS can not successfully determine the proposed resolution and signal type that the converter is programmed to output.  Certain splitters will however successfully work with certain converters, but we have not been able to find a definitive combination of such products that will always work properly together.

A splitter can NOT be used in reverse.  If you have multiple HDMI devices that you are trying to connect and your TV is short an HDMI INPUT port, use a SWITCHinstead.

Splitters and 3D

If you are using a splitter to send a signal to a 3D TV, and then are trying to send the OTHER signal to a receiver (to capture AUDIO), the 3D signal MAY not be supported.  The splitter (using HDCP digital content protection rules) first completes a "handshake" to each of the destination devices to determine what resolution and features are being used.  This handshake information is then sent back to the splitter to determine what resolution - and if a 3D image can be split successfully.

If you are splitting a 3D signal to TWO TVs, and one of the powered on TVs does NOT support 3D (or the 3D capability is of a different technology), the splitter again must automatically drop the 3D capability and provide a signal that is supported by both powered on TVs.  This is not a splitter design deficiency - but an electronic property of the HDCP (copy protection) rules that all splitters must adhere to.


Splitting an HDMI signal provides for the following support for all our current splitter versions:

  • Support for concurrent TV usage - meaning both TVs can be on at the same time without violating HDCP rules, or content licenses providing that signal is being split into the same house-hold, or same business location.  All TVs are not required to be powered on at the same time, however.

  • 3D Support - provided BOTH display devices being split to BOTH support 3D and the 3D technology is of similar type (ie passive vs active).  If ONE (or more) of the displays does NOT support 3D signally, such display (or receiver) can be powered off and 3D capability will be restored to the remaining TV.  You may have to power cycle the splitter to achieve this.

  • All major audio formats are supported - DTS (HD) Master Audio 6 channel, LPCM (2 and 8 channel), Dolby Digital AC3, Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus

  • Long distance support - The length of cable from the source device to the splitter should be no longer than 25ft.  The BEST possible HDMI cable should be used for this length.  From the splitter to a destination TV, the maximum recommend length is 50ft using conventional or REDMERE HIGH SPEED HDMI cables.  Lengths beyond 50ft have been successful using our FIBER OPTIC HDMI cables


Hack Happiness with Sentio emotion-tracking wristband



Photo via Twitter

(Sarah Young @ ConsumerAffairs) The future holds a seemingly endless number of products that seek to improve the quality of our health. From Fitbits to Smart Sneakers, wearable tech has already figured out how to track our physical needs  but what if it could also track your emotional needs?

That’s the idea behind Sentio’s emotional tracker, appropriately named “Feel.” Revealed at CES 2016 last week, the emotion-tracking wristband can sense when your mood isn’t the greatest and prescribe solutions or a program to help get you back to happy.

Sentio’s slogan for the Feel? “Hack Happiness.”

Tracks biosignals

According to the “myfeel” website, the Feel works by using “4 integrated sensors on the wristband [that] measure and track biosignals from users throughout the day, including galvanic skin response, blood volume pulse and skin temperature.”

Using a companion app, the Feel system visually graphs a user’s emotional state throughout a given day and provides “personalized recommendations to help users reduce stress and improve well-being.”

For example, the Feel will know that you were feeling awesome after you ran several miles yesterday. Today, it has sensed that you’re not feeling as great, so it will recommend that you do some more running.

Other features

The Feel wristband offers a number of other cool features, all while boasting a look slightly more stylish than the Fitbit. (It’s leather.)

Feel “alerts” will cause the wristband to vibrate in the case of an extremely stressful situation, which may or may not add to the stress of the situation a la the game Operation. 

The app can also give "personalized recommendations." You'll get coaching on how can you improve your emotional health, with advice such as "laugh more" peppered throughout your day. 

An emotional wellness plan will help ensure users are sticking to their long-term emotional goals; daily analysis of which will allow wearers to track whether their overall state is improving or declining.

Will it work?

Since it’s only a prototype, it remains to be seen whether or not the Feel can actually make people happier —much less, how people will respond to the idea of forced happiness.

While it’s similar to Fitbit, the Feel wristband has much less concrete evidence from which to harvest its data, since emotional well-being is so much more complex than physical well-being.

Because while even an inanimate object may indeed be able to judge when we’re in a mood, can it really know what types of things trigger certain emotions? That’s like asking a robot to be human.

Handling Disagreements Effectively

Be reasonable. Do it my way. (Bumper Sticker Quote)

If everyone did things my way, there would never be disagreements. But that world doesn't exist and we all face disagreements every day. Most view disagreements as undesirable but actually, if  handled effectively, disagreements often can lead to creative solutions that really work for everyone concerned. The following are tips on making sure disagreements become productive rather than divisive

1: Make certain there is really a disagreement
Ever witnessed a "volatile agreement"? It can actually be funny, as long as other people, rather than you, are involved. For example:

A says, on Monday, "The report won't be available for at least two days."

B says, "That's ridiculous! We won't have it until Wednesday!"

There's no disagreement here, right? Most likely, B was expecting to hear a specific day, rather than an interval of days. In other words, B might not have been listening carefully. In this case, A could say, "Wait a minute, we're saying the same thing. Wednesday is more than two days from Monday."

A variation of the volatile agreement is the "volatile non-disagreement." For example:

A says, "Babe Ruth played for the Yankees."

B says, "Baloney; he played for the Red Sox.

Here, B's mistake is thinking that playing for the Yankees and playing for the Red Sox are mutually exclusive. However, as most people know, Babe Ruth actually played for both teams.

Other false conflicts could involve time (different time zones), distances (miles vs. kilometers), or release levels (different/additional functions, depending on the release).

I could cite other examples, but I think you get the point. Matters that appear to conflict might not really conflict at all. Listen carefully to the other person and make sure there really is a difference.

#2: Separate yourself from your position
In his classic work The Psychology of Computer Programming, Gerald Weinberg describes the concept of "egoless programming." Under this concept, a team of technical programmers, including the author of a program, reviews that program, checking for errors. The less defensive the programmer feels about the code, the more productive the review process will be. In other words, the process goes more smoothly if the programmer separates himself or herself from the program and doesn't view discovered errors as a personal attack.

In the same way, actors, when interviewed about a role they play, generally refer to their own character in the third person. When talking about his character, Benjamin Martin in The Patriot, for example [SPOILERS AHEAD], Mel Gibson would more likely say, "Gabriel's death had a big impact on Benjamin" rather than "Gabriel's death had a big impact on me." Similarly, he would more likely say, "Benjamin Martin is a man who's trying to escape his past," rather than "I am a man trying to escape my past."

Try to adopt this view of disagreements. If we involve ourselves personally with our positions, we will have a harder time being objective about them. That lack of objectivity can prolong a disagreement needlessly. Try to view your position not as "your" position, but merely "a" position. In the same way, if you have an issue with someone else's position, make clear that your concern is with the issue, not with the person, if that's the case.

#3: Maintain professionalism
We've all heard the old saying about "disagreeing without being disagreeable" and that "honey attracts flies better than vinegar." The lesson learned, treating people with respect "” even those with whom you disagree "” can earn you respect in return and gives your position added credibility.

#4: L I S T E N!
The volatile agreement involving the two-day delay could have been avoided had person B listened carefully. Listen to what they have to say completely before responding. If you have to interrupt, for example, because the other person is being long-winded or redundant, try to summarize your understanding first. People sometimes express themselves differently than you expect. If you fail to listen, you might find yourself responding not to the other person's actual position, but only to what you thought the other person's position was.

#5: Recognize and avoid "straw man" arguments
This point carries over from the previous one. It's easy to argue against a position that no one has. Attacking a position that isn't really the one a person holds is called a "straw man" argument because, like a straw man, it's easily knocked down.

If you fail to listen carefully, you may find yourself wasting time reacting to such a position rather than to someone's actual position. It's bad enough to attack a straw man by accident; it's ethically questionable if you do it deliberately. Similarly, make sure others really do understand your own position.

#6: Agree to disagree
Sometimes, no matter how much discussion occurs, you're unable to agree on one particular point. In some cases, that single disagreement prevents further discussion. However, other times, you might be able to switch to other topics. If so, it's best to "agree to disagree" on the point of contention and move on to the other areas. Maybe later you can return to the disagreement and work through it. But try to make progress in spite of the issues about this one thing. If nothing else, say “That’s your opinion, and I respect that!”

#7: Watch what you say
Once spoken, words can never be taken back. There's no "untalk" feature corresponding to an email "unsend." Similarly, when a stone enters a pond, it sends out ripples that go only outward. As the saying goes, "A harsh word stirs up anger."

Momma advised my to count to 10 before answering. In particular, and in view of the earlier advice to separate person from issue, be careful about overusing the words "you" or "your" or similar terms. Doing so blurs the line between person and issue and can make the other person feel defensive or accused.

A good technique is to "play Columbo," a reference to the old television series about a detective with that name. Peter Falk, who played the role, came across as an idiot who always needed someone to explain things to him. In the same way, if you have a disagreement or concern, consider expressing it via a question rather than via a statement. Does the other person's position lead to a problem? Ask questions so that in answering them, the other person realizes the issue as well. Just don't overdo this technique or it will sound contrived and insincere.

#8: Use a lower voice
Just as "A harsh word stirs up anger," "A mild (soft) answer turns away wrath". I have seen this used in heated boardroom debates and it works. "If you lower your voice, frequency, volume, and pace when speaking, you accomplish three things. First, you reduce any tension that might exist. Second, you force the other person to listen to you. Third, because of its unexpected nature, lowering your voice can gain you a psychological advantage in the discussion.

Case and point: Board members were arguing which direction the company should take. Passions were running high.. booming voices were shaking the walls, red eyes, veins bulging, fists shaking, I thought for sure it would turn into a fist fight! Then one manager crossed his hands behind his head, sunk down in his chair and took a long stretch like only a cat who is very comfortable could. As he softly spoke in low pear-shaped tones, the room became quite and calm. Folks listed intently and completely to his point and, in this case, it was unanimously adopted and met with great success.

#9: Try to see the other person's point of view
In a previous blog entry, I talked about the importance of seeing the other person's point of view when explaining a technical concept. That same principle applies with respect to disagreements. The more you understand someone's position, the more you may understand their concerns "” and the more likely you can resolve the disagreement. In fact, before responding with your own position, consider paraphrasing the other person's position and concerns first. Doing so sends a powerful message. Even more important, emphasize first those matters upon which you and the other person agree.

#10: When the disagreement is resolved, put it behind you
We all know the saying about "water under the bridge." Once a matter is settled, don't keep a record of wrongs. Let it go. Dwelling on past differences seldom leads to productive results and can lead to bitterness and bad feelings. Look back only to learn from what happened, so that you can avoid similar mistakes (if any) in the future.

#11: Usually there is more than one way to get something done.
Rather than wasting time massaging your ego and debating endlessly, if their way works, just do it their way, give them credit for a good ideal, and get the job done!!!

If you require additional information or assistance with this item, please give us a call.

Hard Drive Safari 2011

Well it happened again. Last Wednesday I needed a hard drive for a computer. Since I needed it NOW and didn't have one in stock, I safaried to North Charleston to see what kind of local deals I could find from a computer store. This became quite an adventure as you will soon see, but first a little history lesson on computer stores.

I say it happened again because then situation reoccurs about once a year, and that’s not too bad because if you run out of hard drives once a year, it means that the management of that inventory item is about right. You can read about last years safari by clicking here.

Well, so much for history, how about that; A quick look on the internet found a Seagate Barracuda 500 gig SATA drive with 32 megs of cache for $35.99 plus shipping. Best Buy offered the same drive for about $129.99. OUCH that hurt! Who said you couldn't make money on computer stuff.

So I made the trek back to Summerville along Rivers Avenue to Hi way 78 stopping at each computer store I found. The first couple of stores matched the Best Buy price on the same drive. The next offered a 320 gig for $70.00. OK - kind of old and small, that will work ring it up!. Your total is $106.48. WHATTT! How do you get $106.48 from $70.00??? "Sorry sir, I got the wrong price." The darn thing wasn't even in a box and the plastic wrap was torn. Thinking back, this same store tried the same thing on me last year. In fact, it looked liked the same drive.

The next store offered a 500 gig for $255.00. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; $255.00 for a 500 gig drive? I asked to talk with the manager. He was friendly, and we talked about the high price of overhead, and how shipping prices have doubled in the last year. As such he said “you seem to be a nice guy. I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you have the drive for $205.” The manager became visibly upset when I turned him down.

Next stop Wal-Mart:  Main Street, Summerville.. They had 6 Seagate 1 Ter SATA drives 16 megs cache in the box with cables and documentation for 98.98 plus tax, and a guarantee that if it didn't work, I could bring it back. Eureka! I HAVE MY DRIVE AT LAST!!!

Not so fast!  Last year when I purchased a hard drive from Wal-Mart, I had to take it back twice. They exchanged it quickly, but there was still the hassle of going back and forth to Wal-mart. But not this time. This time the first drive was good and my hard drive safari was over.

 For many computer stores, the game has changed very little. If they sell a Dell with a 1 Ter drive, it may have originally come from the factory with a 350 gig drive. They take that one out and place it in a plastic wrapper and sell it for $150.00 plus $30.00 for cables. Then they buy a 1Ter gig drive for $59.95 with cables and mark the Dell unit up $150.00. The new cables that came with the drive are placed in new packaging and sold separately. That’s $305.05 in additional profit.

Perhaps if we run out of drives next year, we’ll write a “hard drive safari 2012.

Hard Drive Safari 2012

Well it happened again, but this time it was my Linux server hard drive. Interesting because my Linux server is an 11 year old Dell with an Intel Pentium 4 processor that still performs about as fast as a Windows Server with duo core processors.  It was the hard drive partitioned as “home”, where I keep all of the user data for the company that went down. That means that I could simple replace the drive, restore the data from one of my many backups, and be back in business in no time. Timing could not have been better as I use Friday as a “clean-up day”, and only had one appointment scheduled for noon. So I took off early just to see what I could find from local vendors, but instead of starting my safari in North Charleston, I began looking for vendor’s right here in Summerville.

Perusing the internet, I found Seagate 1 Terabyte 7200 rpm drives 32 Megs of cache for about $50, plus $10 shipping, so $60. This was up $15 from last year.

Last year’s hard drive safari was just like the year before, and the year before that, and so on. The only thing that changed was the names of the companies and the size of the drive.

This year was very different. The first three local computer stores that I visited did not stock hard drives. Why, I asked? The common answer was that drives are getting so much bigger, so fast, that if they bought a drive today for stock, it might be obsolete tomorrow. What was more interesting is that two of the three offered to buy a drive for me at Best Buy at cost, then charge only for installation and for restoring my data, around $200 for labor. Best Buy price was $79.95. That plus installation is almost $300. No way would I put $300 into an 11 year old computer. Just doesn’t make sense! Besides, when I told them it was Linux, they admitted that they couldn’t work on it anyway.

So I made the trek through Summerville, down Hi way 78 to Rivers, stopping at each computer store I found. I couldn’t find anyone in Summerville that stocked hard drives. The two stores I visited on Hi way 78 last year were gone. But then I found the same stores on Rivers Avenue that I visited the last couple of years.

No new tricks here. The first store offered a 320 gig for $70.00. OK - kind of old and small, that will work ring it up! Your total is $106.48. WHATTT! How do you get $106.48 from $70.00??? "Sorry sir, I got the wrong price." The darn thing wasn't even in a box and the plastic wrap was torn. Thinking back, this same store tried the same trick on me last year, and the year before. In fact, it looked liked the same old “piece of drive”!

The next store offered a 320 gig for $149.00. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; $149.00 for a 320 gig drive? I asked to talk with the manager. He was friendly, and we talked about the high price of overhead, and how shipping prices have doubled in the last year. As such he said “you seem to be a nice guy. I’ll tell you what; I’ll let you have the drive for $99.” The manager became visibly upset when I told him about the Best Buy price turned him down.

The next store had a 500 gig drive for $79.95, but when they rang it up on the register, it came up $99.95 plus tax. What’s the extra $20 for? The Sada cables were extra. Now, I know that the drive came with Sada cables, power and data. These guys snatch the cables out of the box, reseal the box, mark the cables at $19.95, and put them on a rack for sale. What a “rip off”! Time to move on!

I began to tire from the adventure, so I went to the same store that I bought a drive from last year, Wal Mart. Guess what? They don’t sell internal hard drives anymore. What a shock because last year they nearly matched the online price AND, if a drive fails, they replace it immediately. Other stores would make you send it back to the manufacturer, and that could take weeks.

So Wal Mart was OUT! Now, what to do? I slid into Best Buy. First I went to the “Geek Squad” counter. Interesting deal. They said, buy your hard drive at the store (you pick it out and pay for it), then we will install it for $150. I asked for a written estimate and they said ok. Much to my surprise, the total wasn’t $150, but $219.95, that’s and extra $69.95. What is that for? The answer, diagnostics. They don’t do anything without running diagnostics first. When I told them the computer ran Linux, they retracted their offer.

So I went into the retail part of the store and found my drive, Seagate 1T, for $79.95 plus tax. Time to end this adventure, make my noon appointment, and get the server running.

At the register the checkout person was very insistent that I apply for a Best Buy credit card. I kept saying NO NO NO and she kept say But But But. The deal is that if I apply, I get $20 off of my purchase. That means my drive goes from $79.95 to $59.95, and that I’m under no obligation to accept the credit card. What a deal. I bought the drive, got the discount, turned down the card, and was off to my appointment, $20 to the good.

 For many computer stores, the game has changed very little. If they sell a Dell with a 1 Ter drive, it may have originally come from the factory with a 350 gig drive. They take that one out and place it in a plastic wrapper and sell it for $150.00 plus $20.00 for cables. Then they buy a 1Ter gig drive for $50 with cables and mark the Dell unit up $150.00. The new cables that came with the drive are placed in new packaging and sold separately. That’s $295.05 in additional profit.

Perhaps if we run out of drives next year, we’ll write a “hard drive safari 2013.


Hard Drive Safari

Saturday I needed a hard drive for a computer. Since I needed it NOW and didn't have one in stock, I safaried to North Charleston to see what kind of local deals I could find from a computer store. This became quite an adventure as you will soon see, but first a little history lesson on computer stores.

The first IBM PC store in Charleston was Franklin computer. Sure you could buy Tandy at Radio Shack and Apples from the local computer boutique, but Franklin was the only game in town for IBM PCs; you paid list price, and the waiting list was long but distinguished.

 Soon, other computer stores opened (bearing the IBM name but not IBM Authorized) with unbelievable low prices on IBM PCs, even selling them for half the price of Franklin. Franklin, unable to compete, soon went by the wayside. But why the price differential? Franklin, an authorized IBM dealer, sold only "True Blue" PCs with only IBM parts inside. The other computer stores purchased "Bare Bones" IBM PCs on the "Grey Market" and built them up with "brand x" drives, memory, and peripherals.  "True Blue" stores could not compete with "Grey Market" "Build-ups".

Some of the "build-ups" were of good quality,  others were not so good. But it seems to me that if you advertise an IBM PC that it should be IBM through ‘n' through. Otherwise it's like buying a Ford Mustang only to find a YUGO motor and transmission under the hood. Needless to say, I never played that game.

Well, so much for history, how about that; A quick look on the internet found a Seagate Barracuda 500 gig SATA drive with 32 megs of cache for $35.99 plus shipping. Best Buy offered the same drive for about $129.99. OUCH that hurt! Who said you couldn't make money on computer stuff.

So I made the trek back to Summerville along Rivers Avenue to Hi way 78 stopping at each computer store I found. The first store matched the Best Buy price on the same drive. The next offered a 320 gig for $70.00. OK - kind of old and small, that will work ring it up!. Your total is $106.48. WHATTT! How do you get $106.48 from $70.00??? "Sorry sir, I got the wrong price." The darn thing wasn't even in a box and the plastic wrap was torn. I let him keep his drive, kicked the dust from my feet and went on to the next computer store.

This store had an 200 gig for $70.00. As I waited in line the lady in front of me was paying for a $275.00 computer repair on an old computer worth about 2 cents. As she checked out she asked for a detailed list of the parts used to repair her PC and labor. "Sorry MAM, I can't do that. But your cash register receipt list codes for parts used and a total for labor". She asked the cashier, "Can you tell me what those parts are so I can write them down?' Cashier replied. "Sorry Mam, only the technician knows what those codes mean;  NEXT!".

The cashier brought me a 200 gig drive covered in finger prints with no box. Then she handed me a power cable and a SATA data cable off the wall and said " 200 gig drive $70.00, Data Cable $15.00, Power Cable $15.00, Tax, that will be $106.50, and if it doesn't work when you install it, don't bring it back here, send it to Seagate".  I let her keep that one too!

Next stop Wal-Mart:  Dorchester Road. They had 6 Seagate 1 Ter SATA drives 16 megs cache in the box with cables and documentation for 98.98 plus tax, and a guarantee that if it didn't work, I could bring it back. Eureka! I HAVE MY DRIVE AT LAST!!!

Not so fast!  When I got back to the shop and installed the drive it didn't work!  So I trekked back to Wal-Mart for a quick exchange,  popped it into the computer, and it didn't work again. Back to Wal-mart. Third times 's' a charm! It works!!! Finally!!! The experience was costly but I learned a lot.

For many computer stores, the game has changed very little. If they sell a Dell with a 500 gig drive, it may have originally come from the factory with a 150 gig drive. They take that one out and place it in a plastic wrapper and sell it for $70.00 plus $30.00 for cables. Then they buy a 500 gig drive for $35.00 dollars with cables and mark the Dell unit up $150.00. The new cables that came with the drive are placed in new packaging and sold separately. Net gain, $205.00. And so on - and so on - and Scooby dooby dooby!

Hi Def Video Bandwidth Crisis

Stream Hi Def video to 3 TVs, 3 iPads, 3 SmartPhones whilst downloading "who knows what". Will the internet have enough bandwidth?

Solving the puzzle of high-definition video, Internet packet protocols and other esoterica comes down to a single question for most consumers: how many remotes will I need? If the rumors sweeping the tech and financial worlds are true, it may that Steve Jobs' legacy won't be the iPhone, the iPad, iPod or even the iMac but rather the iTV, or whatever it will be called. Read More – Click Here!

Hold the Jack - Don't Drink At Company Functions

At that peak of my career, I was a consultant for an auto industry manufacturer. Our new General Manager made significant innovative changes in the business which led the company back to profitability. As a reward, the board of directors and upper-management threw a company-wide Gala to celebrate our new found success.

The awards ceremony and lavish banquet was followed by a reggae band and several open bars; everyone was encouraged to “drink - be mary - don't hold back - This is our time to celebrate”!

The GM (General Manager), who I know very well, noticed that I was not imbibing, so he brought me a 50/50 Jack and Coke, my favorite at the time, to prime the pump. I downed it quickly, then offered to get him his favorite drink, only when I came back, mine was “Jack and Coke” “Hold the Jack!”, a strategy that really paid dividends.

Before long, the Chairman of the Board was Slaloming through the crowds like a water skier with rubbery legs, unable to walk a straight line, the GM talked like his tongue swelled to four times it size and was stuck to the back of his throat, gagging him on every word, and a VP sat motionless at the table, not speaking or even blinking. I thought she was comatose until she hoisted her glass, then asked me to get her another. The whole room was “stupid drunk”. I don't know for the life of me how anyone got home safe.

After the Gala, the President got this idea that all of management should meet at the corner bar to finish off the evening. I was invited to ride in the limo with the Board and Upper-management. Good thing too because the GM and Chairman needed my help to stay upright, whilst I carried the VP. When we got into the limo, I quickly noticed that the limo driver was “drunk off his behind” too. So I pushed him over to the passenger seat, grabbed his keys, and took the wheel.

If the Gala experience wasn't bizarre enough, what happened next in the limo really blew me away. When the limo doors closed, everyone instantly sobered up. The slaloming Chairman, the Gagging GM, the comatose VP... They weren't drunk at all; they were faking it.

What is worse is that it became apparent that this was a premeditated plan to gather Intel on lower-management and select consultants. Careers were made and destroyed based on the Intel gathered from this Gala, and other events that followed over the next couple of years.

My decision to stay straight and in control endeared me to Upper-management and the Board. I became involved in many decision made at all levels of the business. Later, I moved to three other major manufacturers, and found that the same scenario played over and over again.

Bottom line: Keep your senses. Be watchful, Stay in control, “Hold the Jack”.



Home Automation Future

In 1988 I had an Apple Elise that would turn on light and appliances using voice command. Butler! "Yes Master" Turn On Lights! "As you wish" - click - light was on. Butler would also play blackjack. Butler! "Yes Master" Hit Me!... Were is home automation now?

(CNN) -- The world of automated home gadgets is young and exciting, filled with an abundance of promising new products. It's also a bit of a mess.

At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, there were devices and smartphone apps to control everything in your home. But there are so many conflicting approaches, setups, standards and systems that the real dream of a fully connected home is still a ways off.

In previous years, the connected, or "smart," home world was mostly aspirational, with prototypes of fridges with Internet-connected displays and elaborate home security systems. But this year the Jetson's home is a finally a reality, with major vendors peddling real, usable products, almost all controllable from a smartphone.

There are home security cameras you can monitor from anywhere, motion sensors that trigger lights or send you a text message. A product called Plant Link monitors your plants' moisture levels and texts you when they need water. There is a sensor you can put on your grandmother's teapot that will alert you if she forgets to have her morning cuppa. You can control blinds, check air quality, see if windows are open, unlock your house from halfway around the world for a visitor, or use GPS to have your heater turn on when you're a certain distance from home. The possibilities are endless.

How does something as low-tech as a light connect to your smartphone? Typically, the "dumb" end devices (light switch, electrical outlet, thermostat) are outfitted with wireless modules. They communicate using Wi-Fi or other wireless technology with an Internet-connected hub device, which collects the data and bounces it to the cloud. That information is then accessible from a computer or smartphone app, the light controllable with the tap of a finger from anywhere in the world.

Explaining the 'Internet of Things'

Unfortunately, with the excited rush to get out new products and try new things, most devices or systems don't yet play well with others. Consider the Philips Hue, a cool, color-changing smart light bulb that's sold in Apple Stores. The bulbs connect to a Philips Hue hub, and you change their colors with the Philips Hue stand-alone app.

You can't add a third-party pet door opener or radio controller to the Philips hub, or control them from the Philips Hue app. That means you can't program the kitchen lighting to turn blood red and set the stereo to play "Eye of the Tiger" every time your tabby saunters in for dinner.

"Theoretically, they should all work together," said Daniel Moneta, chief executive of MMB Networks, a company that helps equipment manufacturers transform their analog products into smart devices. "But innovation tends to happen at a faster pace than standards."

The trend of individual devices and sensors having their own smartphone apps and cloud infrastructure is unsustainable. Imagine having to sort through 50 apps to find the right lock, or opening each app one at a time to set up vacation settings before a trip to Death Valley.

Big companies such as Comcast, Time Warner and Lowe's have taken a stab at consolidating smart home technology with their own connected home solutions. They have convenient pre-packaged systems that include the central hub, the smartphone app, and starter devices like security cameras or energy monitors.

China to lead in automation

These systems have their drawbacks. Many charge a monthly fee. They will sell approved additional devices to add on to the network, so it's expandable, but you are still locked into their ecosystem.

Then there are the standalone devices that pack the computing power into the object itself, such as the popular Nest programmable thermostat. There's no hub, it just uses Wi-Fi and the Nest app, and it can't connect to other home management systems.

"At the end of the day, putting the intelligence into a single device misses the bigger picture," said Jeff Higgins, chief technology officer of SmartThings, a startup working on its own platform for smart homes. For Higgins, who has 95 smart devices connected in his own house, the real power of connected devices is in the apps and writing programs that link objects together. The air conditioner that doesn't turn on because it knows a window is open.

To complicate things further, current smart devices don't all speak the same language. There are competing short-range wireless technologies for connecting smart object. In addition to Wi-Fi there's ZigBee and Z-wave, which use less power and are easier to connect. Unlike Wi-Fi, they can be used to create a network of devices that communicate with each other, passing on signals from objects in far off areas of the home.

SmartThings will release its own starter kits this Spring, $299 boxes that include a hub and five or six devices that connect to SmartThings app. But the company is planning an open platform that supports all three wireless standards, doesn't charge monthly fees and allows any third-party device to jump on the system and app. Developers can write smaller apps that work inside the main mobile application, coming up with creative ways to link objects together. The startup raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter last year and is backed by some big-name venture capitalists.

Whatever the future of smart homes looks like, it will need to be dead simple, affordable and easy to use. There are still potential security and privacy issues that have to be worked out. But the options will narrow down, the technology will become more consistent and a smaller number of remote control apps will crowd your smartphone. Next up, flying cars.

Read More - Click Here!

Hot Rod Web Browsing

Faster is better. Who wants to wait for a WebPage to load? And if you run 10 or 20 tabs at a time like me, load time can be excruciating unless you know how to rev up your Web Browser, and this is how we do it:

1. Use a High Output Web Browser:

The new offerings by Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla run circles around their older siblings. There is a lot of debate has to which one is faster. I’ve studied and performed speed tests, and found that each one out-performs the other depending on the test. Chrome10 appears to have a slight advantage today, but the way these guys leap-frog each other, who knows who will be king of the hill next week. Windows Explorer is fast but has some difficulty with compatibility, especially if you run Windows XP (it doesn’t work at all). FireFox just feels faster, and will run on All Windows flavors, PLUS MAC, and Linux. So take your pick, just make sure it is the latest version. 

2. Dump the toolbars:

To win a drag race you might have to dump the spare tire, seats, and even fenders to get light enough to win. The Toolbars in a Web Browser is extra weight that, when removed, greatly increase load time and operating speed. Toolbars can hog memory, chew up bandwidth when they send unnecessary data to the vendor, and take up screen space. I know, some of them can be pretty useful, but doing without can really pick up the pace.

3.Use Tabs instead of Windows:

Tabs are like racing slicks and Windows are like street tires. Slick give you better tractions on the strip, and tabs can make a big difference in Web Browser performance. Most Web Browsers treats each tab as an individual process, and Windows uses a child process of a parent. If you use Windows, if one area of the Web Page crashes, you have to close the browser and you have to find each window all over again. However, If your particular tab happens to crash, for some reason, all you have to do is close that one tab. The other tabs remain in tact. Organizationally, multiple tabs in a single window makes it faster to locate the page you need to work on. No more maximize and minimizing windows, to see what’s there over and over again until you find the right one Opening a single window with multiple tabs is far more efficient AND uses less memory.

4.  Disable Flash:

Flash to a Web Browser is like Smog Devices to race cars. Flash can really eat up memory and processor power causing a page to load really slow. And if you are trying to run 5 or 10 pages, it might appear to lock you up completely. Simply turn Flash off by default,  and enable it to view the things that you need to view with flash. Problem is, Browsers like Crome10 and FireFox requires an  add-on to disable Flash. Internet Explorer uses a built-in tool accessed by clicking Tools > Manage Add-ons > double-click Shockwave Flash Object > Remove All Sites. 

The only other thing I can think of that will increase Web Browser speed, besides buying more bandwidth from your ISP, is to use a ram-disk for your Web Browser cache. Whist Ram is 100 time faster than hard drive cache, it is difficult to configure and maintain. But the first four will not only get your going Browsing Faster, It’s speed that you can really feel. What a rush!

How Does Satellite Internet Works


For people who live a good distance from a phone company or cable provider, there is still hope if you wanted to get a broadband internet access just like everyone else. Thanks to satellite internet, it is now possible to get high speed internet access even if you live in a more remote area. Mobile satellite internet is also very useful for people on-the-go who want to access the net. How is it possible? And what is the difference between satellite and other types of high speed internet access?

Satellite internet is more expensive and it's not that easy to install. Usually, your provider's technician will take care of installing the device. There are three kinds of satellite internet access.

  • One-way multicast – is more similar to a one-way terrestrial return. This kind of satellite internet access includes interfaces to a public switched telephone network. An internet connection is not required, but many applications include a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server for data broadcast.
  • One-way with terrestrial return – These are satellite internet systems that employ traditional dial-up access to the internet, with outgoing data traveling through a regular telephone modem, but with downloads happening via satellite at a speed comparable to other broadband internet access.

satellite internet diagram 1

  • Two-way satellite access – This type of connection sends user-requested data (like a web address) from an orbiting satellite to a hub, and then to the Internet. The satellite dish must be perfectly positioned to prevent interference with other satellites. Also, power management needs to be used to adjust the amount of transmission power to compensate for conditions like the changes in climate.

satellite internet diagram 2

Satellite Internet is generally popular in areas that other choices like cable or DSL internet are not available, such as rural areas.

How Does Your Website Look On A Cell Phone

( 40% of your customers visits your website via a mobile phone.

Every business should look for unique production, top-quality solutions and implementation of the mobile web.

How does it work when mobile suits your website?
The mobile website exists parallel to your current website. A mobile website detects if the user enters via a cell phone and automatically loads a mobile page instead of the regular website.

Mobile experts (like GO MO Group in Sweden) have the ability to deliver cost effective, high quality and advanced solutions to the customer. All quality control is directly associated with the production.

Europe is facing major changes.
The consumer already has heavy demands on corporate mobile accessibility and customization. We have identified a great need, where the business market is looking for expertise to help companies take advantage of the rapid developments taking place in mobile media.

How Does Your Website Look Via Mobile? image GO MO Group make me mobile 229x300How Does Your Website Look Via Mobile?

Why a custom mobile website?
Mobile website or mobile site, is the name of a website that is optimized in both layout and content for use via a mobile device.

Yet another reason to get a mobile website is that many so-called “Smart phones” with a web browser do not support flash files, i.e., that the website does not appear at all in the mobile search.

Mobile Commerce
This past Christmas, 48 percent of Smartphone owners used their phone to locate a suitable Christmas present, an increase of 9 percent compared to last year. A third also used their cell phone to then complete their Christmas shopping.

17 percent of Smartphone owners say that they are likely to spend more money from their mobile devices next Christmas. Another 31 percent said they would consider it if the dealers are working more to make the shopping experience quick, easy and as seamless as possible.

Of those who shopped via mobile phone, only 24 percent are completely satisfied with the shopping experience. E-merchants simply have little to work with it when it comes to customizing shops to mobile visitors. It is, however, an increase of 6 percent compared to last year, suggesting that the mobile is moving in the right direction.

How I Got Into Linux

In the 1992 I was asked to create a unique manufacturing shop floor software system whereby assemblers would use computers with pictures and text to complete each task on an assembly line. The system ran on Unisys 386 servers, Novell network (token-ring), and with Microsoft dos on Unisys 286 workstations. The database engine was SPI (Software Products international) Open Access ; the program was written in turbo Pasquale with lots of c hooks. We supported nearly 250 users.

The shop floor system was highly successful. It halved production time, tremendously increasing  production quality, and resulted in new business from Ford, Allison, and Nissan. Several articles were written about my work appearing in ComputerWorld, AME Target, and WSJ.

In time, a disagreement ensued as to who owned the source code. Since I was not in a position to defend a mufti-million dollar law suite, I let them have the code, then developed original code using Microsoft SQL and ASP.

The company threatened to bring a lawsuit stating that I had used “their” code extensively to create my new product. John Brown, owner of SPI, found himself in a similar situation with Microsoft and was totally obliterated. So I let them have that source code too.

For my next product, I needed something radically different, something that could not be remotely confused with anything I had written in the past. Linux using Slack Ware, PHP, Java, and PostGreSQL was the answer to my prayers.

When "The Company" thought it was a joke! 'What, Linux???' However, the resulting product was far better then my previous efforts. Linux proved to be faster and much more reliable. And linux was so efficient I could sell totally redundant servers (fail-over) at the same cost that my competition sold stripped-down single servers. Scalability was unlimited.

In time, however, we moved from Slack Ware to Debian. Slack Ware was a great linux distro, but the internal references in Slack Ware to satan, atan.S, apple and eve, was troubling to me, and might be to some of my customers as well. With a few changes in code and database structure, we also expand our database offerings to DB2 and MySQL.

Interesting thing about this technology. Even though we developed it in 1992, Caterpillar, who acquired the software through acquisition, is just now rolling out this production model to all of it's manufacturing facilities, worldwide.

Link to first ComputerWorld article:
Link to 1995 video of the software on a production line (5 minutes):
Link to a 1996 software demo:

How To Avoid 10 Tech Mistakes Small Businesses Make by Erik Eckel

In today's microwave society in which just-in-time manufacturing models, heightened customer expectations, and 24/7/365 accessibility demands burden both manufacturers and service providers, little time remains for much else. Small businesses often don't have the resources or inclination to track the latest computer news, security threats, or even common break/fix tips. And not all small business owners are adept at maintaining best technology practices.

As a result, small businesses frequently make certain technology mistakes. Here's a look at these mistakes, along with specific steps IT consultants can take to assist small businesses in correcting these common failures.

#1: Insufficient technical support

Many organizations go without technical support, relying instead upon an employee whose love of Warcraft may make him or her the local office "computer guru." Other organizations may depend upon a staffer's friend or relative (who's "interested in computers") to provide technology advice or assistance when critical systems fail or slow unacceptably.

Some turn to their hardware manufacturer's telephone support line for help, only to be disappointed when the solution to many problems proves to be performing a reinstallation (thereby resulting in the loss of all the business owner's data). Some rely upon a big box electronic store's service arm, never receiving the same (novice, often undereducated, and inexperienced) technician twice. And still others locate a student or individual who provides computer support "on the side."

These support methods are not cost-efficient. Nor are they effective information technology investment, troubleshooting, or administration options.

Small businesses need knowledgeable, trusted technology partners who are proficient with current technologies and willing to help learn their industry's operations requirements. Once a qualified technology expert is familiar with a client's needs, appropriate services and solutions can be recommended and deployed. The result is almost always more cost-effective, more efficient, more profitable operations for the client.

#2: Hardware/software issues

Smart organizations set PC service lives at three or four years. There's a reason.

"When you look at costs, particularly around a four- to six-year lifecycle, it may seem like you are saving money", says Info-Tech Research Group analyst Darin Stahl. “But really it's costing you.” That's because support expenses increase. Retaining PCs longer than three or four years often results in repair and support costs that meet or exceed the price of new systems.

This is the second common tech mistake businesses make: They fail to standardize hardware components and software applications, where possible. The result is a mishmash of components that complicate troubleshooting, repair, and deployment and require companies to support a variety of programs with different license terms and renewal dates. Incompatibilities often result.

Worse, older and obsolete hardware is less efficient, increases downtime likelihood, feeds staff and customer frustration, endangers sales, and threatens other lost opportunities.

Small businesses can overcome common hardware and software issues by:

  • Retiring equipment at proper lifecycles, typically three to four years.
  • Standardizing hardware components.
  • Standardizing software applications.
  • Working with an IT consultant to leverage vendor relationships and reduce costs/negotiate more attractive pricing.

#3: Insufficient power protection

A single power outage, surge, or spike can damage expensive electronic components and result in critical data loss. Consistent surges and brownouts, meanwhile, shorten the lifespan of computers, printers, network components, and other equipment.

Many businesses deploy simple power strips. Others continue depending upon surge suppressors deployed five and even 10 years earlier. When thunderstorms, electrical outages, and other disasters strike, the damaged systems and corrupted or lost data — not to mention downtime — resulting from insufficient power protection prove costly.

Organizations should deploy quality battery backup devices (with built-in surge suppression) for all critical desktop PCs. Further, technology professionals should connect all servers to uninterruptible power supplies and test them regularly to confirm adequate failover protection is in place.

When deploying battery backups, businesses should properly install and configure corresponding cables and communications software. Network protections should be leveraged whenever possible, as well, in attempts to remediate cable modem, DSL, and other surge sources that can destroy telecommunications and computing equipment.

Since surge suppressor quality varies, organizations should purchase such equipment from trusted vendors. And since surge suppressors (and batteries) wear over time, businesses should replace them regularly.

Simple power strips should be avoided whenever any computer, server, network device, or other important component is present.

#4: Illegal software

Possessing illegal software may be the easiest trap into which many organizations fall. The issue is widespread (the Business Software Alliance estimates 22 percent of all North American software is unlicensed), making it our fourth common tech mistake plaguing small businesses.

Certainly, licensing issues quickly prove perplexing. The differences between OEM, retail, and open license software escapes the understanding of many business owners. Yet manufacturers are becoming more aggressive in locking down licenses (via product activation technologies) and prosecuting offenders (often via the BSA, which has collected more than $81 million in settlements).

Many organizations don't recognize they do not “own” software, since programs and applications are commonly licensed. Worse, some firms use “borrowed” applications or pirated programs. Problems arise either in the form of audits and penalties or challenging delays (due to product activation conflicts and other licensing issues) when returning failed systems to operation.

Businesses must understand there are no shortcuts to running legitimate operations. All software, applications, and programs must be properly licensed.

With more manufacturers implementing product activation features, in which software programs report their installation and usage back to the manufacturer, overuse or outright piracy is becoming more difficult or impossible, anyway. But violations still occur.

Businesses can protect against licensing errors and penalties, and help ensure the fastest recovery times when failures occur, by carefully documenting and tracking all software license purchases and deployments.

Further, software licenses (including for operating systems, business line, and office productivity applications, accounting programs, security tools, and other utilities) should be purchased only from reputable technology partners. License sales on eBay that look too good to be true are.

Finally, when installing new programs, organizations should pay close attention to the license agreements they accept.

#5: Insufficient training

Mention software training in most any conference room, and you're likely to hear groans. Boredom, bad classroom experiences, lack of interest, or complexity all contribute to employees' resistance to learning new applications. But that doesn't change the fact that insufficient training ranks as the fifth common tech mistake impacting small businesses.

How bad is it?

It's estimated that office staff understand less than 20% of the available features in the software applications they use. That means 80% of the features, time-saving capabilities, and cost-reducing functions remain unused.

Gross inefficiencies result. As a consequence, many processes — including repetitive data entry, complicated calculations, and automated data selection and reporting — are completed manually, which introduces a greater likelihood of errors entering the process.

Tasks that could be completed in moments often consume exponentially more time. Considering that many of those tasks are repeated each business day by multiple workers, it's easy to see how the costs quickly become significant.

Most small businesses don't employ full-time trainers. Therefore it's imperative that small businesses identify technology partners, training centers, or other programs that assist staff in maximizing software applications.

Even when training resources are present, there's no guarantee staff skills will improve. For that to happen, businesses must make computer and software training a priority. Tap technology partners or other consultants to conduct regular lunch-and-learn sessions. The business can spring for lunch and, for a few hours of consultant's fees, expose entire departments to important new features and capabilities.

An organization's technology training commitment can be reinforced using performance reviews. Businesses can add specific course, off-site training, and even certification requirements to staff education programs and performance review objectives. When partnering with a local training center, businesses can create customized instructional programs or select prepackaged modules.

Organizations with limited budgets, meanwhile, can leverage self-paced instruction manuals and computer-based training aids to assist employees in improving their skills after hours or in their own homes.

#6: Security failures

Small businesses frequently fail to accommodate security issues. Organizations either don't recognize the risks or don't take them seriously.

The costs are staggering. Large U.S. organizations lose some 2.2% of their annual income due to security attacks, according to an Infonetics Research “Costs of Network Security Attacks” report. That's expensive. The FBI estimates such computer crime costs U.S. industry in excess of $400 billion.

Organizations don't need to have a high profile to become a target, either. Hackers have created innumerable automated programs that scour the Internet 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, seeking poorly secured systems, servers, PCs, and networks to infect and exploit.

Unfortunately, businesses everywhere are falling victim to compromised systems, robotic attacks, identity and data theft, and more. Organizations that fail to properly secure client and customer data often find themselves in the middle of security crises that result in bad press, lost sales, and forfeited customer trust.

Fortunately, completing simple steps assists small businesses in preventing security failures. Here are several best practices all organizations should adopt:

  • Implement and enforce strong password security policies for all PCs, servers, network equipmen, and software applications.
  • Regularly update operating systems, network equipment firmware, and applications with the latest security patches.
  • Deploy business-class firewalls in all locations; connect no systems directly to the Internet.
  • Secure all wireless networks.
  • Disable guest accounts.
  • Implement Internet and e-mail usage policies that preclude personal use of those technologies.
  • Prohibit file-sharing programs.
  • Deploy proven antivirus, anti-spyware, and anti-rootkit applications and update them regularly.
  • Regularly perform security audits and correct all deficiencies.

#7: Poor backup strategies

Despite numerous choices, methods, and options, many organizations fail to adequately back up data — a mistake that can be unrecoverable.

Statistics reveal there is a 50% chance an organization will cease operations immediately when critical data is lost. Worse, an organization's odds of failure rocket to 90% within two years when critical data is lost. Data losses cost an average of 19 days' productivity. Recovering data from damaged disks, meanwhile, is incredibly expensive.

Even organizations that believe their data is properly protected may find themselves at risk. Occasionally, incorrect data (as in the wrong data) is backed up. In other cases, tape backups prove unreliable. (Gartner Group estimates only half of all tape backups restore successfully.) Fortunately, small businesses can follow simple steps to securely protect their data.

Since data backups are so critical to an organization's livelihood, small businesses should work with proficient IT consultants or technology partners to ensure the right data is being backed up and that it's being backed up as frequently as required. In addition, technology professionals should regularly test backup sets to confirm the data can be recovered in its entirety.

Consultants can work with small businesses to determine what data, files, and information should be backed up, how often to create the data sets, where to locate the backups, and how often to test the sets' integrity. Consultants also prove invaluable in updating backup routines when software upgrades, migrations, and other updates change critical file locations. Further, technology professionals can ensure business data remains secure, which is a critical concern for physicians, financial institutions, and even retail outlets.

#8: Virus exposure

Viruses not only remain a major threat, but their dangers are increasing. The BBC reports that unprotected PCs become infected within eight seconds of being connected to the Internet.

Infections are proving expensive, too. In the book The Dark Side of the Internet, author Paul Bocij estimates the average virus incident costs organizations $2,500 in remediation and data recovery expenses. A report by ICSA Labs places businesses' costs even higher (at $99,000 per incident).

And the numbers, varieties, and types of threats only increase. Malware programs are evolving at such a clip that many security software vendors have eliminated daily updates in favor of distributing patches every four hours.

Often, businesses and users simply fail to implement protection. A survey conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance revealed that 67% of the respondents did not have up-to-date antivirus software. Worse, some 15 percent had no antivirus application installed.

#9: Spyware exposure

Before we address virus solutions, let's visit spyware, which is an equal threat — and potentially even more daunting.

Spyware differs from viruses in its nature (spyware typically aims to track user behavior, collect user information or sensitive data, and display unwanted advertisements, whereas viruses often destroy data, corrupt systems, or enable hackers to remotely control a system). But spyware's business impact has reached epidemic levels.

The respected trade group CompTIA estimates spyware infections require two-and-a-half days to resolve and cost small and medium-size businesses $8,000 a year, which doesn't factor lost revenue. As evidence businesses aren't doing enough to protect themselves from the threat, CompTIA pointed to the information its research recently uncovered. More than a quarter of business users reported their productivity suffered as the result of a recent spyware infection, and more than a third reported being infected multiple times within the last six months, with some reporting being infected as many as 10 times!

No virus or spyware strategy is foolproof, but most technology consultants recommend the following steps:

  • Install reputable antivirus and anti-spyware applications.
  • In high-risk environments, a second standalone anti-spyware application is warranted.
  • Regularly update antivirus and anti-spyware programs.
  • Do not let antivirus and anti-spyware program licenses expire.
  • Perform regular automated antivirus and anti-spyware scans.
  • Regularly review security program log files to confirm proper operation.

Further, businesses should avoid deploying “free” security products in businesses. These products are often deployed in violation of the license agreements (which require licensing the software in businesses, academic facilities, and nonprofit organizations) and don't support frequent updates, real-time protection, or automated scans.

#10: Unsolicited E-mail

Most every business and user is familiar with the problem of unsolicited e-mail, also known as spam. Spam messages have become a serious issue, particularly for small businesses that often misunderstand the problem and fail to take effective countermeasures.

The Radicatti Research Group estimates spam costs businesses more than $20 billion a year. Further, almost half of all e-mail is estimated to be spam.

Thus, small businesses are investing valuable time, money, and system resources processing, delivering, and even storing these unsolicited e-mail messages. In addition to lowering productivity (staff must regularly sift through hundreds or more junk mail messages, deleting the spam, in search of legitimate e-mail), spam takes a toll on an organization's servers and workstations, which often must dedicate processor cycles, disk space, and backup media to untold gigabytes of unwanted mail.

Technology consultants wield several weapons in the war on spam. In addition to network filtering software, consultants can deploy server-based spam protection. Some organizations choose to outsource e-mail processing to a vendor that can monitor e-mail streams and filter out unwanted messages.

But such filters can generate false positives. And they're not cheap. Therefore, it's often a good idea to begin by adopting effective methods for managing unsolicited e-mail messages. Here are several first steps all e-mail users and small business owners may take to minimize spam:

  • Do not publish e-mail addresses in plain text on Web sites; instead use form-based tools that prevent robotic harvesting.
  • Avoid forwarding chain e-mail messages.
  • Ignore credit repair, get-rich-quick, and other common e-mail solicitations.
  • Use reputable e-mail filters (such as those included in Microsoft Outlook, Google Gmail, and other programs).
  • Read all terms before ever submitting your e-mail address to another party.
  • Review privacy policies before ever providing an e-mail address.
  • Consider creating a free e-mail account (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) for submitting to third parties.



How To Beat The Claw

Squatting menacingly in the corner of your favorite restaurant, movie theater, supermarket or bowling alley, the claw machine is a harsh mistress. There's something unmistakably hostile about its steely, three- or four-fingered grip, and something immeasurably frustrating about the feeling of horror and loss you get as your prize slips from your tenuous grasp at the very last second.

Don't despair. Instead, even the odds a little. Follow these simple tips, and you can't lose. (OK, you can lose, but you'll lose a little less often.)

Read More - Click Here!

How To Break Through The Red Tape and Get What You Want

Everyone has run into it: bureaucracy that gets in your way and prevents you from achieving your goals. Whether

you're trying to find the right support solution, fix something that's broke, or return an Internet purchase,

you will often encounter problems. Here are some tips for dealing with those bureaucratic hurdles...

#1. Pick your battles

Remember the story of the boy who cried “Wolf”? Eventually, when the wolf did attack, no one came to help the

boy. In the same way, make sure that when you take on the bureaucracy, it's really worth it. Must you have a

change in the way things are done now? Does it truly make your life or work unbearable? The tips below can help

you, but keep in mind that in using them, you are spending political capital. If you can live with the current

situation, it might be best to save your battles for truly important things.

#2. Determine what you really want

When faced with obstacles or frustration, it's common to focus so much on them that we forget what we really

want. Then, when the person in charge asks us, we hesitate and stutter because we haven't thought things

through. Think about what you'd want if the bureaucratic obstacles were to be removed. Be as specific as you

can, in terms of dates and quantities.

#3. Think through your acceptable alternatives

You might not get what you want. That's how life works. So you need to think about what alternatives you could

live with. In particular, think about the different “levers” you can pull. Can you change the location where

something happens? What about sequence? If the person you want to see is unavailable, could someone else in

that department help? If you can't get all of what you want, can you live with some now and some later? If the

other side doesn't suggest alternatives, you can suggest them yourself.

#4. Don't take things out on the front line person

Getting angry at the service desk or help desk person rarely will accomplish anything. Chances are, they lack any

authority to make decisions. That's why they're telling you that the policy is the way it is. Getting angry solves

nothing and might only delay a real solution. If you have to be annoyed, be clear that you're not upset at that

person but rather at the policy.

#5. Find the decision maker

If you want something, you need to find someone who has the authority to make the decision. As noted above,

only rarely will that person be on the front line. More commonly, that front line person merely carries out the

already established policy and will be reluctant to make exceptions. You will need to find that person's boss, or

the boss's boss, who will have the authority to make the decision that's favorable to you.

#6. Remember that there's strength in numbers

You have a greater chance of getting what you want if you have allies -- other people who have the same

concerns. If all those other people voice the same issues, the other side knows that you're not just some isolated


#7. Be clear on your escalation process

If you have trouble with another organization, say within your own company, be clear on how you will escalate an

issue. Will you go to your own boss first? Will you approach the other department's boss yourself? In any case, be

clear with your boss on this process. If and when you do escalate, think through as much as you can about the

issues, why you're escalating, and what you want done.

#8. Document the situation

Documenting the situation will help the other side know what's going on. It also shows that you're staying in touch

with the situation. Be as specific as you can on names of people, dates, times, and actions that were promised.

#9. Respond positively to the \"roadblock comments\"

Those “We can't do that” or “don't have the authority” comments drive you crazy, don't they? Here's a way to

handle them: Turn them around to a positive question and then ask the other person that question. For instance,

a response to “We can't do that” would be “What can you do?” A response to “don't have the authority” would be

“Who does have the authority?” A former co-worker of mine varied the latter question by asking, “Who has the

ability to fire you?” While that question follows the principle I outlined, I don't recommend it for general use.

#10 Build up your political capital

You often must call in favors when you need to get things done. Therefore, take time to build up good will and

hence political capital with others. Be helpful when you can (while of course keeping your own job as your top

priority). Build relationships with others (what the Chinese call guanxi). Those relationships can help you if these

other tips don't.

#11 Be gracious when you get your way

No matter how frustrating the situation, be gracious if and when you get your way. A “thank you” takes little time

and effort, but is a nice touch and can make things easier for you the next time.

#12 Remember the serenity prayer

When all else fails, remember the serenity prayer: Ask for courage to change what you can, serenity to accept

what you can't, and the wisdom to know the difference.

How To Buy The Right Printer At A Great Price

Picking the right printer is tough. Just look at the choices, brands, types, speeds, feeds, functions. It’s enough to make your head spin. But if you follow a few simple guidelines, you will end up with a good printer, that does what you want, for a good price. So let’s get started.

What kind of printing do you want to do? This is important because some printers do an OK job at everything whilst other do a great job at one thing and a poor job at another. Example: If all you do is pictures and portraits, you would be better off with a dedicated portrait printer. But a dedicated portrait printer does a terrible job of printing letters and spreadsheets. So if you do a lot of portraits AND a lot of letters and spreadsheets, you may be better off with two printers, a dedicated portrait printer and a general purpose printer.

Multi Function Printers: Standard printers can do a good job (not great) at portraits too. But you might also want to scan pages and pictures, make copies, or even fax. In fact, the price of multi function printer have come down so much that it might make more sense to by one of these instead of a general purpose printer. And we don’t even print pictures anymore. We proudly display them on our TV and Cell Phones.

Speed and Volume: The two go hand-in-hand, and has a great impact on the type of printer that you should buy. Buy a cheap printer, run a lot of paper through it, and it will burn out quickly. So look and the amount of printing that you plan to do each month, and pick a printer that will meet or reasonably exceed that volume.

Ink Jet VS Laser: Ink Jet is great for low to medium volume printers, but the two technologies are beginning to overlap. Laser printers will handle a lot more volume, but the laser cartridges are much more expense than ink jet. However, cartridge for cartridge, the laser cartridge may yield a lower price per printout or page. However, shelf life of both laser and ink jet is about a year. After that, the cartridge may fail, or ever worse, it may foul and ruin your printer. So part of the choice between Laser and Ink Jet goes back to the volume printed. For really big volume print jobs, don’t burn out your printer, use a printing service.

Do You Really Need Color? Guaranteed, as soon as you buy that black ‘n’ white printer, you’ll need color. Buy a color printer

Paper output is a considerations too. Most low-end printers do standard 8 ½” by 11” only. More expensive printer can do letter, legal, 11” by 17”, may have multiple paper drawers, sorters, collators, and ever staplers. Fancy huh – expensive too.

How will you connect to the printer? The options are USB, WiFI (Wireless), Wired Ethernet, FireWire (Apple) and Blue Tooth. Just make sure your printer will connect the way you want it too. USB, Wired Ethernet, and FireWire are the most reliable.

Best Buys on Printers: I always wait until the end of a product cycle and buy the printer I want at a close-out price. The multi function printer I have now was $795.00 when it first hit the stores, but I got it on close-out for $59.95. You can find great deals on printer on the internet, but you have to pay $10-$20 for shipping. Many of the larger stores will match online price. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount.

Ink is Ink and Toner is Toner: My printer has 4 ink cartridges and the “Big Computer Store” wanted $24.99 each. Darn! That’s more than I paid for the printer. I would have been better off buying a new printer! So I went down the street to a “generic brand” ink cartridge store and got all 4 cartridges for $10.99. What a sweet deal!

It sound like a lot but you can do it. Decide what you want to do with the printer, how much printing, then scourer the internet to compare specs, reviews, and deals, and you’ll make a good choice.

Important Note: Most printer companies play interesting game where they sell printers at a reasonable price, then hook you on buying their ink at premium prices. They do this by placing electronics in the ink cartridge and forcing you to use them electronically. One notable exception is Brother - no electronics in their toner or ink cartridges. Whilst HP 8500 cartridges are $24 each (you need 4), I can get a Brother CL71 for $2 OR re-ink it myself (I don't but I could).

How To Change The Read-Only Folder Attribute

If you have one or more folders that are set to Read-only in Windows Vista and you aren't able to view or change the attributes in the Properties dialog box, you can work around the problem by using the attrib command line tool.

To view or to remove the Read-only or the System attributes of folders in Windows Server 2003 or in Windows XP

Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then press ENTER.

To view the syntax for the Attrib command, type attrib \\? at the command prompt.

Warning If you remove the Read-only or System attribute from a folder, it may appear as a ordinary folder and some customizations may be lost. For example, Windows customizes the Fonts folder and provides a special folder view that permits you to hide variations, such as bold and italic. It also permits you to change the folder's view settings in ways that are specific to fonts. If you remove the Read-only and System attributes of the Fonts folder, these customized view settings are not available. For folders that you have customized by using the Customize tab of the folder's Properties dialog box, the folder icon and other other customizations may be lost when you remove the Read-only attribute.

If a program cannot save files to a folder with the Read-only attribute, such as My Documents, change the Read-only attribute to System by using the Attrib command at a command prompt.

To remove the Read-only attribute and to set the System attribute, use the following command:

attrib -r +s drive:\\<path>\\<foldername>

For example, to remove the Read-only attribute and to set the System attribute for the C:\\Test folder, use the following command:

attrib -r +s c:\\test

Be aware that some programs may not operate correctly with folders for which the System attribute and the Read-only attribute are set. Therefore, use the following command to remove these attributes:

attrib -r -s c:\\test

To view or to remove the Read-only or the System attributes of folders in Windows Vista

Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then press ENTER..

To view the syntax for the Attrib command, type attrib \\? at the command prompt.

To remove the Read-only attribute and to set the System attribute, use the following command:

attrib -r +s drive:\\<path>\\<foldername>

For example, to remove the Read-only attribute and to set the System attribute for the C:\\Test folder, use the following command:

attrib -r +s c:\\test

Be aware that some programs may not operate correctly with folders for which the System attribute and the Read-only attribute are set. Therefore, use the following command to remove these attributes:

attrib -r -s drive:\\<path>\\<foldername>

For example, to remove both the Read-only and the System attributes from the C:\\Test folder, use the following command:

attrib -r -s c:\\test

If the Run command is not listed on the Start menu, do the following:

Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, and then click Run.

How To Collect Marketing Email Addresses

Is there a way to legally collect email addresses?

There are lots of way to get folks to sign up for your newsletter, blog, and marketing offers, and this is how we do it:

1.Put an offer on the back of your business cards to get people to sign up for your newsletter.

2.Tradeshows - Bring a clipboard or sign-up book with you to tradeshows and ask for permission to send email to those who sign up.

3.Include a newsletter sign-up link in your signature of all of your emails.

4.Send an opt-in email to your address book asking them to join your list.

5.Join your local chamber of commerce, email the member list (if it's opt-in) about your services with a link to sign up to your newsletter.

6.Host your own event - Art galleries, software companies (one here has a party every quarter and invites the neighboring businesses), retail shops, consultants (lunch & learn) can all host an event and request attendees to sign up.

7.Offer a club where you give something special to people who sign up.

8.Incentivize your employees - Give them $ for collecting VALID email addresses.

9.Giving something for free like a PDF? Make visitors sign up to your opt-in form before you let them download it.

10.Referrals - Ask you customers to refer you, and in exchange you'll give them a discount.

11.Bouncebacks - Get them back! - Send a postcard or call them asking for their updated email address.

12.Trade newsletter space with a neighboring business, include a link for their opt-in form and ask them to include yours in their newsletter.

13.SEO - Make sure you optimize your site for your keywords. You need to be at the top of the natural search when people are looking for your products or services.

14.Giveaways - Send people something physical and ask for their email address as well as their postal address.

15.Do you have a postal list without emails? Send them a direct mail offer they can only get if they sign up to your email list.

16.Include opt-in forms on every page on your site.

17.Popup windows - When someone attempts to leave your site, pop up a window and ask for the email address.

18.Include a forward-to-a-friend link in your emails just in case your recipient wants to forward your content to someone they think will find it interesting.

19.Include a forward-to-a-friend on every page of your site.

20.Offer a community - Use Ning as your easy-to-set-up community and have your visitors interact and sign up for your newsletter.

21.Offer "Email only" discounts and don't use those offers anywhere but email.

22.Telemarketing - If you've got people on the phone, don't hang up until you ask if you can add them to your newsletter.

23.Put a fishbowl on your counter and do a weekly prize giveaway of your product - then announce it to your newsletter. Add everyone who put their card in on to your newsletter list.

24.Include an opt-in form inside your emails for those people who get your email forwarded to them.

25.Tradeshows - Collect business cards and scan them into a spreadsheet. Make sure you ask permission to send email to them, then mark the card.

26.Use Facebook - Host your own group and invite people to it, then post new links often. From time to time, post a link to sign up for your newsletter.

27.Use Facebook - Post the hosted link from your newsletter into Linked Items to spread the word.

28.Use Facebook - Include an opt-in form on your Facebook Fan page.

29.Use Twitter - Twitter the hosted link of your email campaign every time you launch.

If you would like to share something that has worked for you, please let us know!

How To Get The Most Out Of Linkedin Groups

() Groups are one of the most valuable resources that LinkedIn has to offer business owners and freelancers. Joining and participating in relevant groups helps you grow your network, increase your visibility and take advantage of a shared pool of knowledge and experience. Here are three tips to help you get the most from LinkedIn groups even on a very tight time budget.

1. Join a few well-chosen groups rather than a multitude. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups but it’s best to be judicious about how many groups that you join. Look for groups where you’ll be able to make a real impact. Bigger isn’t always better, but you’ll want to choose groups that have a lively user base and that are big enough that you can benefit from a wide variety of perspectives and experience.

You can search for groups on LinkedIn by clicking the “groups” tab. LinkedIn will automatically suggest groups that you may like and you can also browse the open groups directory. You can search groups by keyword, category and language.

If you don’t find a group that meets your particular needs, you can always start your own. While it will take some time and effort to get off the ground, the benefits can be large.

2. Visit your groups regularly. You can get email updates but for maximum impact, visit your groups regularly so that you can contribute to the conversation in a timely manner. Make visiting LinkedIn a regular part of your daily routine.

Once you visit, make the most out of your limited time by targeting the most popular conversations. These conversations are where most of the engagement is taking place and where your contributions will be the most visible.

Also take the time to start your own discussions. Not only will you benefit from hearing other’s perspectives and experience, you’ll also increase your visibility. Those who contribute the most to LinkedIn groups are recognized as “top influencers” on the sidebar of each group page. This kind of recognition adds to your authority and visibility on LinkedIn and expands your reach.

3. Be generous to others. Acknowledge their contributions by liking or sharing their posts. This isn’t only the nice thing to do, it also helps you stand out and others will see you as a plugged-in, go-to person.

It’s also good to be generous with your knowledge and other resources. Many are tempted to play it close to the vest but in most cases there is very little to be gained by being stingy with help. On the other hand, being seen as a maven or guru in your field is almost always a good thing.

Think about LinkedIn as being exactly like your local community network because that’s what it is, only on a much larger scale. Those who have a reputation for being generous and quick to acknowledge good work and valuable insights have a leg-up on those who keep to themselves. The old saying is true, you have to give to get.

Read More - Click Here!

How To Go Paperless

@ techlicious) Today, nearly everything involved with running a household can be done electronically – paying bills, doing taxes, sharing photos. Even the kids’ artwork can be photographed into a digital collection. Is it time to consider getting rid of the home filing cabinet to go completely digital?

The reasons to go paperless are compelling: free up square footage, save time finding documents, have redundant secure backup, save trees, and make your home office fully portable. And with banks and other service providers beginning to charge fees for paper statements, you’ll also save money.

But most of us have concerns.

  • Is it safe and reliable? Yes, with appropriate backup. And digital files are less vulnerable to loss from theft, fire and flood.
  • What about taxes? No problem. The IRS accepts digital filing. It’s not necessary to keep paper copies of anything related to your taxes, per the IRS, as long as you have an “electronic storage system” such as a PC with reliable backup. And if you are ever audited, you can just send the relevant files on a USB drive, rather than photocopying and boxing up paper files or having an agent come to your home.
  • Is digital extra work? No more work than paper.

In short, the biggest legitimate objection to going digital is the loss of paper itself – something physical that we can touch, mark on, and stack in piles. And piles. Time to begin.

What you’ll need

A strong backup system is required – either an external backup drive (we recommend the WD My Cloud 2TB Personal Cloud Storage, $141 on Amazon) or cloud storage (like Google Drive or Dropbox) or better yet, both. Other necessary tools are a fast document scanner, a flatbed Multi-Function Printer (MFP) for scanning bulky items, a paper shredder and a program that will turn all those scanned documents into PDF files, the standard file format for archiving documents.

fujitsu-scansnap-iX500-250pxFor the document scanner, invest in one like the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 ($450 on Amazon), or its little cousin the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i ($250 on Amazon). This may sound like a lot to spend, but it will pay for itself in the time it saves you. Without one, you might just find scanning so onerous that you abandon the whole idea of going digital.

The Fujitsu scanners handle two sides in one pass, 25 pages per minute, in color. Drop a stack of pages in the document feeder, and they will be scanned and ready to file. The scanning software automatically straightens and enhances the image on the fly, combines pages into a single PDF, and eliminates blank pages. You have the choice to output in common formats like PDF, JPEG, Excel or Word.

For the Multi-Function Printer we recommend the Epson Workforce WF-2540, $90 at Amazon. Its flatbed scanner is great for files that are attached together or even your kids’ artwork.




For the paper shredder, we like the Fellowes Powershred MS-450Cs micro-cut shredder, $199.98 on Amazon. Its level 4 security rating means it’s safe for your sensitive documents. Plus, it’s compact, powerful and has safety features in case your hand gets too close to the shredder mechanism. For a more compact model, we like its smaller sibling the Fellowes DS-3 Cross-Cut Shredder, about $72 on Amazon.

For the PDF writing program first check your scanner and MFP to see if it’s built in to their software. If not, check to see if you have Adobe Photoshop Elements. That will turn JPEG files into PDFs. If you still need a PDF writer, check out NovaPDF ($20-50 on which does it all cheaply or CutePDF (free at for the super slimmed down, but free option.

Establish your digital filing system


The key to making this process easy is setting up a simple workflow that becomes habit. A good filing system ensures you can find everything later, which is another IRS requirement. You must be able to produce your records upon request, just as with paper.

Where to store

It’s best to store files in your main PC folder where you keep everything, such as “My Documents”, so you’ll never lose track of them. Check to make sure your backup system supports that location, otherwise go with whatever it requires.


Create a folder system on your PC that mirrors your physical file cabinet. You might try chronological folders for each year, and sub-folders within them for categories like banking, taxes, healthcare, insurance, housing, legal, pets and family members. “It’s a good idea to have a current year digital tax folder,” says Debra Boyce of Strand Boyce Associates, CPAs. “Then, you can put documents into the folder throughout the year. For example, if you pay your taxes online, save a copy of the receipt in PDF, and store it in your current year folder as a reminder when preparing your tax returns next spring.”

Naming documents

The default names of scanned and downloaded files may work for you, but for better searchability, change them to something logical like “VisaBill 2014-05”. If you want even more robust searchability, investigate the sophisticated tools that come with your high speed scanner, such as full text indexing and batch tools for renaming or tagging.

Establish your backup system

If there’s any chance you’ve fallen behind on backing up, now is the time to make it top priority. Don’t just take our say-so; the IRS requires that digital records be well maintained with “reasonable controls to prevent … alteration of, deletion of, or deterioration,” … in other words, a backup. [Source: IRS bulletin PDF, Page 10, section 4.].

There are two ways to back up: in your own home on an external drive, and to an online service “in the cloud”. It’s your choice, but consider both, as they serve different purposes.

Pros and Cons of Backup Options

  Backup Drive at Home Online/Cloud Backup Outside Home
  • ~$100 one-time fee
  • ~$100/year ongoing
  • Fastest backup and restore to PC
  • Ultimate security from hackers
  • No maintenance required
  • Redundant storage safe from catastrophic loss in home
  • Vulnerable to fire, flood, etc.
  • Needs to be replaced every 5-10 years
  • Slower backup and restore speed
  • Not under your complete control
Best Use
  • Store and share content among devices over home network
  • Backup and recover lost files
  • Insurance against home catastrophe
  • Repository to share and access documents remotely

External hard drive

An external drive plugs into to your PC or home network and provides fast storage/retrieval of your content. Network-attached storage (NAS) has the advantage of being accessible by devices on your home network, for example for other family members’ backups or streaming photos to your smart TV. As an added benefit, it can be a personal “cloud”, letting you access your documents through the Internet even while away.

We recommend the WD My Cloud 2TB Personal Cloud Storage, $141 on Amazon, which will provide shared storage for all the devices in your home. For backing up a single computer, go with a standalone drive, such as WD My Passport 1TB Ultra drive, about $79 on Amazon.

Online backup

Online backup services encrypt and back up your data to the Internet. In case of something catastrophic in the house like fire or theft, the content will be safe. Our picks for the best online cloud syncing servicescharge a subscription fee in the ballpark of $60-$100 per year (under 5GB is often free). If you have a huge amount to backup (over 250GB), CrashPlan offers an unlimited storage option.

The initial upload to the cloud may take days, or for some rare users, weeks, depending on the amount being backed up, your Internet bandwidth (take the speed test to find out how you rate), the speed of your hardware, and your online storage provider. For example, 150GB would commonly take around 7-8 days, though that could vary widely as some providers, like Carbonite, throttle your upload speeds.

Start filing

Now it’s time to begin your digital filing.

Download statements

Start by going online and downloading all your monthly statements from banks, etc., as far back as you can access, and file them in the folders you created. Save everything in PDF format. For items not already in PDF form, such as a Web-based receipt of payment, use the “print” or “save as” command to create a PDF.

Going forward, make it a monthly habit to download and file statements from your online accounts and anything related to your household. There is not yet any way to automate that process, though most banks will send you an email notification when your statements are ready.

Scan papers

Start by scanning everything on your desk. Short-term things can go into a digital “Delete by” folder labeled by year. Tear apart multi-page documents so that they’ll go through the scanner – you’ll be throwing them away anyway. For bulky items that won’t fit through the feeder, use either your flatbed multi-function printer, or take a photo with your digital camera.

Work your way through your desk until it’s clean. Doesn’t that feel great? Over the next few months, start chipping away at your paper filing cabinet. You will discover that much of your file cabinet can be tossed outright. Don’t scan anything you can get online, like warranties, user manuals, policies, terms and conditions, brochures, etc. Be bold and ruthless, but don’t agonize – storage costs keep falling, so if you are in serious doubt, go ahead and scan it. Then drag your file cabinet curbside and put a sign on it marked “free”.


After scanning, shred sensitive documents. If you don’t want to purchase a shredder, check your town’s Website to see if they offer a free document shredding/recycling day, where you can take in your documents and watch them shredded before your eyes in an instant; most towns seem to have one.

What to keep in paper

Scan everything, but also store in paper form official certified documents and anything with a raised seal, such as notarized documents, deeds, wills, title documents, trust documents, birth/death certificates. Other candidates for paper are short-term items you want at your fingertips, like flyers, clippings, and catalogs. Or, keep your desk pristine by scanning those short-term notes into your “delete by” folder.

Ongoing maintenance

Now that everything is in your digital filing cabinet, just keep up the ongoing maintenance:

  • Periodically check your backup solution to make sure it is working.
  • Monthly – download all online statements related to your household.
  • Weekly – scan in documents that you want to keep and keep your inbox pile small.
  • Keep your PC healthy and updated, since it is now the hub of your filing.

Enjoy your newly paperless house!

This article was written by Kristy Holch and originally appeared on Techlicious.

Read more: How to Go Paperless |

How To Pin your favorite folders to the Start menu

( @ ZDNet) You want easy access to your favorite folders? Well, let's see... You can pin any folder to Start by right-clicking the folder name in File Explorer and then clicking Pin To Start. Or you can drag folders from a File Explorer window and drop them on the File Explorer icon on the taskbar, which adds them to the Jump List.

But there's a more subtle, equally accessible set of shortcuts, running along the left side of the Start menu, just above the Start button. By default, this small strip of icons contains shortcuts for File Explorer, Settings, and Power, but you can add a slew of useful shortcuts here.

The setting you need is well hidden. Go to Settings > Personalization > Start. Scroll to the bottom of that page and click Choose which folders appear on Start to reveal a list of 10 folders, each with an on/off switch to its left.

Besides File Explorer and Settings, you have the five default folders from your user profile: Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Video.

You can show the HomeGroup folder, if you're one of the few people who use that feature. Most power users, though, will want to add the shortcut to the Network folder.

Last on the list is Personal Folder, which opens your user profile folder with all of its folders.

How To Replace Important Papers

(Stacy Johnson) Imagine that your house burns down or gets completely destroyed by fire, flood or other disaster. Would you know how to go about replacing your essential paperwork?

Before the Internet came along, simple tasks like changing your address meant driving to the nearest the Post Office and filling out postcards in duplicate. Now there are much easier ways to accomplish nearly everything when it comes to organizing, protecting and replacing your essential stuff. Here’s a helpful list of links that can help you change your address, as well as replace your essential personal paperwork.

Protecting your paper

One way to protect some types of paperwork, as well as to get more organized, is to buy a cheap ($50 – $60) flatbed scanner like the Canon CanoScan LiDE 100 or Xerox 7600 OneTouch, scan your essential documents and keep digital copies. Obviously this solution can’t replace paperwork that has to be original, like a car title. But keeping digital copies of all documents is a good idea, and a super solution for paper that doesn’t have to be original, like receipts, insurance policies, etc. Creating digital copies allows you to save a lot of drawer space and keeps essential information much safer by storing digital images online.

Here are some free software programs and websites that will help you get your stuff organized and keep it that way.

  • Evernote is free document organization program available for both Mac and PC that keeps your data “in the cloud”. This means that everything you store in it is automatically backed up to their server online. Evernote also has versions of its software for the iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile and Android phones, letting you access your documents anywhere, any time.
  • Scribd is a free website where you can upload your important docs for safe keeping. This site is made for sharing documents with friends, so make sure anything you don’t want the whole world to see is marked as “Private” when you upload it.
  • Know Your Stuff is a free software program from the Insurance Information Institute that helps you create a home inventory: worth its weight in gold in case of disaster.
  • Adobe Reader is important for viewing all those PDF files you’ll soon be downloading, storing and creating

Read More - Click Here!

How To Take Great Pictures

“Do the pictures you take lack pop and pazazz?” The following article will help you quickly learn how to take great pictures by paying attention to composition...

As a family with four beautiful daughters, we spent a fortune on photographers, I mean a fortune! So one day I walked into a pawn shop and bought a professional film camera (that's all they had back

then) and a book on photography which I followed step by step.

My first pictures: So I got the camera stuff home, read a little in the book, then lined up my sweet little girls in the back yard to take some master­ pieces. Sweet smiles, cute antics, dressed just so,

these pictures have got to be winners. And they would have been, except whilst focusing on my girls, I never saw the basement cover laying on the ground and a toilet stored under the house beaming in the sun. Awwwful!

After more reading and shooting more pictures, I learned about composition, and how to really look through the camera and see what was going to be in the frame of the picture. As I practiced, the pictures got better and better.

Digital cameras are much easier because you don't have to worry so much about lighting and focus, and the results are instant However, no matter what you shoot with, the same principles apply. Composition Is King.

Composition Suggestions: The subject (what ever you want to take a picture of) should “EAT THE FRAME.” Fill the frame with what you are taking a picture of (the subject). If my tightly lined-up girls were framed head at the top, feet at the bottom: left arm of girl 1 to right arm of girl 4, there would be no room for covers and toilets. But whilst looking at your subject, look at the back­ ground too and remove item you don't want in the picture (if you can) OR move your subject to a different location.

Shoot what's important: Head to toe shots are great, but what may be important is their beautiful smile. In that case, framing the top' of the head and the left ear of girl number 1 to right ear of girl number 4 might yield better results also. Keep asking yourself, can I get closer? Can I get closer yet? You will be pleased with the results.

Add a little background: When vacationing, it's easy to get caught up in shooting pictures of where you are, like mountains, trees, and buildings. However, years later, those pics usually get passed over in favor of photos with friends and family. So when taking pictures of that magnificent tree, place your traveling companions in the shot, using the 75/25 rule. That is, make sure that people occupy at least 75 percent of the picture frame. That way when you view those' pictures of your vacation years from now, it will be like sharing the experience with those folks in the picture all over again.

Subject a little off center: Amazing results can be obtained by shooting your subject a little off-center of the frame. I like to mentally divide the frame vertically into three sections. Then I

place my subject in the center of the first two OR last two vertical sections, leaving the remainder of the frame for the background. Talk about making your pictures pop!

Orientation: Picture formats are usually rectangular. Therefore, some pictures, like one or two people, or trees, lend themselves to turning the camera into the portrait position, sideways, whilst a line of people, or a river, usually look better in the landscape position. If you experiment with orientation, you will soon see what works best for the type of pictures that you wish to take.

Shoot lots of pictures: While folks are lining up for that eventful portrait, take a few pictures before and after you say CHEEZE. You may find several winners or good pictures that way. Also, you can take a large picture, then crop specific parts of a picture to get smaller group shots and single portraits.

Picture taking is fun, and the memories they make are priceless. But paying attention to “composition” can easily turn your good pictures into WOW Pictures!

How To Work Faster On Your Computer

Work, family, friends and a few hours for yourself? Sometimes it seems impossible to fit everything in one day. If you are looking to spend less time at your computer and more time somewhere else, check out these clever keyboard shortcuts.

Windows of opportunity

If you often work with several windows open simultaneously, you’ll save valuable minutes using these quick key options.

1. To minimize a window to your toolbar, press ALT, SPACEBAR and N.

2. To maximize a window to your full screen, hit ALT, SPACEBAR and X.

3. To reduce the size of a window without hiding it, press ALT, SPACEBAR and R.

4. To close a window, hit ALT and F4.

5. To go to the last window you had open, simultaneously click ALT and TAB.

6. To select one window when you have several open, hold down ALT, and maneuver by clicking TAB to the window you want.

To speed up Excel

You can easily accelerate your spreadsheet skills with these handy tricks.

7. To move right to left, cell by cell, hit TAB.

8. To move up and down, cell by cell, press ENTER.

9. To delete data in a cell, use the BACKSPACE.

10. To enter a formula, press = (equals sign).

11. To enter a date, hit CTRL and ; (semicolon).

12. To enter a time, press CTRL and SHIFT and : (colon).

13. To do a quick spell check, press F7.

14. To change numbers to dollars, click CTRL, SHIFT and $.

15. To make figures a percentage, press CTRL, SHIFT and %.

Working with words

If you are using Microsoft® Word, check out these handy shortcuts:

16. To create a new document, click Ctrl and N.

17. To close a document, click Ctrl and W.

18. To preview what you are about to print, hit Alt, Ctrl and I.

19. To print a document, press Ctrl and P.

Faster folder and files

You can speed up your desktop driving with these tips.

20. Having trouble finding something on your desktop? Select any file, folder or desktop icon, then type the first letter of the item that you are looking for. The item will be highlighted. If there are several items starting with the same letter, keep clicking the letter until the one you are looking for is highlighted.

21. To rename a file or folder, simply click on it and press F2. You can now type in a new name.

22. To bring up the START menu, press CTRL and ESC.

Extra time for you!

The more you use the above shortcuts, the quicker you will become. You’ll increase your productivity and decrease the time you spend at your keyboard when you’d rather be doing something else!

Recommendations in this article should only be applied to devices that you own or manage yourself. If you are part of an enterprise organization, please verify that these recommendations are compatible with your internal IT standards prior to applying them.

Microsoft is a trademark of the Microsoft group of companies.

How and Where to Save Money In Today's Economy

In today's unhealthy economy, one can't help but wonder how small businesses can effectively achieve cash management. In fact, even medium scale and large scale business are struggling to cut back on their expenditures during the current economic situation.

Everyone is tightening their belts, both customers and consumers. But how much and where...

Imagine the consequences if no one wanted to purchase goods other than the essentials. What will happen to the restaurant industry? What will happen to the retail industry, particularly those marketing electronics and those gadgets that people can manage without?

It's not just a matter of reducing expenses. Small businesses need to survive and compete with the lower prices that are offered by their competitors--and good cash management is a must.

Here are some tips to help you to save money and manage your business and cash flow. These will also help individuals to better manage their home expenses.

1. Energy Consumption

Electricity is an expense we can't avoid, but if you are able to keep your energy consumption lower than normal, you can save a fair amount of money. One way to save energy is through the use of laptop computers. Sure, they can be more expensive than desktop computers, but imagine the great savings you'll get when it comes to energy consumption. A laptop or notebook computer consumes around 90 percent less energy than desktop computers. Most small businesses use computers, and if these are replaced with laptops when the time comes, energy expenditure will be less. The more computers your business uses, the more money you will save.

2. Telephone Costs

The telephone is essential to all small businesses, and many use mobile as well as land lines. Check up on your monthly plan and negotiate a better deal. As competition is increasing, many businesses are stuck on a deal they started off with, and if they renegotiate they can save a lot of money. Use mobiles only where necessary since they are significantly more expensive to use than land lines. Good cash management involves keeping a close eye on communications costs, especially those that are non-essential.

If you use multiple telephone lines in your business, consider VOIP as an alternative. This can allow you to make huge savings, particularly if you have more than one location for your business. Also, Skype offers a completely free service between Skype users, and it is less expensive than normal to phone non-Skype users.

3. Save on Your Ink

Ink for printers can be another expensive item, particularly when calculated over a year. Try to go paperless and print only what is essential. Use recycled cartridges or buy in bulk to save money. Printer sharing on a network can save on the cost of the hardware and also on ink!

4. Save on Lighting

Most people turn off the lights in their homes when they leave the room, but strangely they rarely do so at work. Make a point of doing so. Switching to energy-efficient light bulbs can save a lot of money over a year.

5. Use the Internet

Small businesses should use the internet as much as possible. It is amazing how many tasks can be carried out online, including business calls, sales calls, online business conferencing, video conferencing, live meetings, instant messaging, seminars and so on.

Owning a small business involves almost constant communication with customers, suppliers and other employees. This can be expensive, particularly if it involves travel. It is just as easy to communicate online as by telephone, and video conference is cheaper than a transatlantic flight! Online seminars can be arranged for training purposes, and advertising costs can be slashed through online advertising. Websites are becoming easier and cheaper to put up with every day that passes. The internet offers many opportunities for you to improve your cash management and improve your overall cash flow.

6. Assess your Office Space

Perhaps you have too much office space and you can afford to let some of it out until you have expanded enough to need it. If you are renting, share the rent with another small business that only needs a desk or two.

7. Buy in Bulk

A lot depends on your cash flow situation, but it is sometimes cheaper to purchase office items on a quarterly rather than a weekly or monthly basis. This is particularly true if bulk discounts overcome the problem of tying up your capital in stock. You will save on delivery charges, but make sure that you budget the use of such supplies, since there is sometimes a temptation to use more materials or supplies when stocks are higher than normal.

Although times might seem bad, those with the ability and desire to make savings will come through in a much stronger position than small business owners who do nothing. Don't let that be you, and by following these seven cash management tips for small businesses, you should be able to make significant savings.

How do you find Great Content

How do you find Great Content to share?

Once you understand that being a good social citizen means sharing other people's posts and content, the challenge becomes, where do you find great content? I've had very interesting conversations with Ryan Best and others who want to better understand this concept of content curation, and how it applies to social media activity.

There are two main techniques that I use, but perhaps some smarter people can offer some additional ideas.

First, I make sure that I am identifying and connecting with influencers and thought leaders on all my social networks. Now, before you get caught up in the anti-vocabulary craze, understand that these terms really do apply. I am actively looking for people who are sharing their own unique ideas and perspectives, and providing real value to those that are interested in what they have to say. I follow brilliant people like Denis Labelle and Mark Traphagen and martin shervington and I continue to learn from the example of guys like Kenneth Manesse Sr.. Every day, when I open my stream, I get a free education on the topics I'm interested in. And I am offered a steady diet of fabulous posts that I can share with my own followers. That creates value for your followers, and an implied affiliation between you and that influencer.

Second, I have taken the time to identify key websites providing articles and commentary on my industry. Sometimes they're blogs from the same people I follow, and sometimes they're different. Some of my favorites include Copyblogger and Social Media Examiner and Heidi Cohen - sites with RSS feeds that are providing tremendously valuable articles and ideas every day. I use these sources to find at least 2 - 3 interesting articles that I can share to my social networks.

In continuing my How to Make the Most of Your HootSuite Account Series, today's post explains in detail how you can use these two methods of finding great content, couple them with HootSuite, and bring everything together into a single dashboard. If you're interested in really unleashing the power of your HootSuite account, check it out.

Are there other ideas or techniques you've found for finding great content? Is there anyone else who you think is doing a bang-up job of sharing other people's posts and being a resource?

And if you have questions about HootSuite, either regarding the RSS Syndicator or otherwise, post 'em here as well.

How to Be Honest from WikiHow

Edited by Jared C., Martyn P, Krystle, Nicole Willson and 55 others

Honesty is said to be the best policy. Being honest with others and yourself can be challenging. Political correctness, being sensitive of other people's feelings, and facing uncomfortable truths about yourself usually requires much patience, vigilance, and hard work.



  1. 1

    Understand the workings of dishonesty. Most learn dishonesty as children upon realizing that different behaviors result in different outcomes. For example, saying certain things (or not saying certain things) garnered desirable approval and praise, or the undesirable disapproval and censure, if not punishment: dishonestly achieving desired results was always temptingly easy. With time the thought processes behind such actions became so unconscious and automatic that ethics and negative consequences are tossed aside. (see Warnings below). Dishonesty often becomes a tool to:

  2. 2

    Fess up. Acknowledge past dishonesty whether you took a cookie and then denied it or blatantly lied about whose fault an automobile accident was. Although reviewing your past transgressions can create discomfort and guilt, recognizing past dishonesty can reveal and help you stop patterns of lies.

    • If you feel guilty for having been dishonest in the past, then apologize those to whom you lied or creatively set things right. For example, if you kept money that you knew wasn't yours and didn't make a good faith effort to return it to its owner, then return an equivalent or greater amount to its rightful owner or, if you cannot locate the owner, donate an equivalent or greater amount to charity. If you've lied to a person who plays an important role in your life (a significant other, relative, or friend) then come clean.
    • List your potential weaknesses, which may be as simple as a tendency to make up excuses for failures or as complicated as kleptomania. Dishonesty stems from fear: find and face it. List problems and then deal with them to consciously battle these habits. If you find yourself lying because you fear disapproval from someone, for example, then you may need to learn how to stop being a people pleaser and be yourself. Most importantly, so admit your errors that you can forgive yourself and use those experiences to reinforce your determination to improve. You can't fix what you ignore.
  3. 3

    Think honestly. So doing may sound silly, but prejudices and preconceived ideas can blur the truth: neither take things at face value nor assume when you read, see, or hear something. Offer the benefit of the doubt and be skeptical where necessary. When you make a commitment to communicating and understanding the truth, you may humblingly realize that most of what we believe to be knowledge is actually comprised of assumptions. Consider the Jewish proverb: "What you don't see with your eyes, don't witness with your mouth."

  4. 4

    Practice being honest on the simple things, especially where "coloring" the facts is meaningless. The situations range from speaking the truth to avoiding such simple, thoughtless acts as picking up someone's pencil or grabbing an apple off the neighbor's tree to snack on without thinking about it). Abraham Lincoln became famous for going to great lengths to return a few cents that that were not his--hence his nickname, "Honest Abe". Applying honesty to little things builds a general habit of honesty.

  5. 5

    Exercise tact. We all know that being literally honest can hurt feelings and sour friendships. It can also be misinterpreted as criticism or a lack of support. A "white lie" can be very tempting when dealing with sensitive loved ones (especially children), but you can still be honest by being creative in how you express the truth.

    • Emphasize the positive. Shift the focus away from what, in all honesty, you think is negative. Instead of saying "No, I don't think you look good in those pants" say "They're not as flattering as the black dress—that dress really looks amazing on you. Have you tried it on with those stockings you wore to my cousin's wedding last year?"
    • You have the right to remain silent. If you're pushed into a corner and don't know how to respond, say "Can we talk about this another time?" or "I really don't feel comfortable talking about this. You should really address this with..." Don't say "I don't know" if you really do know—it can come back to bite you. The person might realize that you know something, and they might get pushy. Repeat yourself and leave the conversation as quickly as possible.
    • When all else fails, be honest—but gently. Wrap the potentially hurtful truth in appreciation, praise, and, if applicable, affection.
  6. 6

    Find a balance between full disclosure and privacy. Being honest doesn't necessitate revealing all your (or anybody else's) business. We leave some information unmentioned because it is not information to which others are entitled; withholding information that you know should be disclosed nevertheless constitutes lying by omission. For instance, not telling a romantic partner of a child or past marriage is objectionable to most. Deciding what a person should or should not know is a personal decision. Although a person may be better off not knowing something, hiding that information is not necessarily in their best interest. Follow your gut and introject: "If I were in their shoes, would I rightfully feel betrayed if this information wasn't shared with me at an appropriate time?"

  7. 7

    Honesty makes us vulnerable by revealing to others our selves and mistakes. They may therefore more hurtfully criticize and reject us than if we'd hidden the truth or lied to begin with. The truth sometimes simply hurts, but honesty develops character, credibility, and trust--all of which build self-esteem and improve your relationships. Being honest isn't a goal that you check off a list—it's an ongoing process that will both challenge and benefit you throughout your life.

How to Maintain Momentum in a Down Market by Mike Phelan

SevOne’s vision is to remove all limits to data collection, reporting, and affordability. The perception of limits is always changing. The way enterprises and service providers define affordability limits have changed dramatically because of market uncertainty.

Some believe that software companies have trained enterprise customers to buy software at the end of a quarter, when the best deal can be negotiated. But now, some companies can’t buy anything at the end of a quarter, regardless of price and value. The market severely punishes high profile public companies that don’t have predictable financial performance, especially during times of uncertainty. There are a limited number of short-term controls or levers to control financial performance. The only real lever is to cut expenses, which means postponing purchases. The levers are not very discerning. There isn’t a lever to postpone only “nice to have” purchases so, “must buy” purchases can get held up too. So, a great Lever Large value and a great price isn’t enough. Whatever your product could save could be lost in market value if a company misses its expected financial performance.

The US market is bouncing along at few points of growth – if we drop a few points into negative growth – then it’s called a recession. No real difference from where we are now, but the press will make a big deal out of the word "recession," which will hurt confidence. The US economy doesn’t have any more real bubbles, so it’s relatively stable. Europe is a different story. The debt load of Spain, Portugal, and Greece is unsustainable and the ECB (European Central Bank) doesn’t have the tools to fix it. Their objective is to control inflation (unlike the Federal Reserve in the United States) it does not have a second objective to sustain growth and employment. Furthermore, Europe doesn’t have an FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) – which allows a US bank to fail and be reorganized over the weekend and re-opened as a new bank on Monday. So, this is a big problem that doesn’t have any easy solutions. We don’t know how the European politicians will handle this, but it will be painful and it will impact the US – Contagion!

So, why aren’t we panicking? We have the success formula, that even works in down and uncertain markets. Last week I had lunch with a very senior financial executive who serves on high profile public boards. He is not seeing panic in the boardrooms. He is seeing confidence. Smart CEOs are hunkering down, making difficult choices, but investing because they are confident that the market will get better. These companies will dominate as the market improves, as will SevOne.

So, how are we maintaining aggressive growth in a down market? How is SevOne becoming one of the smart investments that transcend market difficulties? Our competitors would like to know how we booked more business in Q3 than any preceding quarter. Here is the secret:

To maintain momentum in a difficult market, your offering has to be an MB+E2B (Must Buy & Easy to Buy)

Providing the best price/value (best of breed) alternative is a given – being a “Must Buy.”   A Must Buy has to be...

    Tied to key services and high priority initiatives, such as a VoIP or video conferencing, mobility

Clearly prove how it will save money by telling them what infrastructure is needed to assure quality services

Easier to implement and easier to scale than alternative

Easy to buy is a different story for every customer. One way we make our offering easy to buy for everyone is by making a simple all in one offering (physical appliance, virtual appliance, or cloud delivery). So our price catalog is one page. Simple strategy; Include everything we develop in one scalable solution. Let the customer decide what they need to use or can afford to use. If they find value, they will use more and buy more as they need it.

Easy to buy also means removing artificial business limits. Today we structure our offering to closely align with the customer’s appetite. One new financial customer asked us to offer what he called a convertible ELA. This way he could solve immediate problems in three areas, limiting the immediate expense, but the purchases count toward an Enterprise License Agreement, capping the total cost.

Another customer made a large, seven-figure subscription commitment in September, but in October intends to use capital budget dollars to make a seven-figure purchase. It’s important to point out that this customers’ initial subscription was very small. The SevOne implementation scaled organically completely controlled by the customer.

How to Make a million dollars by Blogging on LinkedIn

How to Make Money by Blogging on LinkedIn BY

(Dave Kerpen) An entrepreneur reveals how he generated leads and revenue with his LinkedIn blog and show how you can do the same.

That's how many people viewed my blog content on LinkedIn last year. Those 16 million page views led to 300,000 followers, thousands of sales leads and books sold and more than $1 million of revenue.

I'm super lucky. I've been part of the LinkedIn Influencer program and that's been a huge part of my success. But now, LinkedIn has opened up its publishing platform to its 275 million users. Now, everyone can blog on LinkedIn. Now, with this roadmap, everyone can make money through LinkedIn. Here's exactly how:

1. Think of a great headline.

A clear, powerful headline that promises to deliver value to the reader counts for as much as 60% of the overall success of your blog post on LinkedIn, as headlines grab readers' attention in an increasingly crowded landscape. Use the headline to guide your content, and deliver what you would tell your best customer.

For example, if you're an accountant, you could try "5 Essential Tax Saving Tips This Year." If you're a small-business growth consultant, you could try "The Secret to Growing Your Business." If you're a recruiter, try "How to Find the Best Talent." Don't worry about giving away your secrets!

2. Find or take a compelling photo.

The "hero image" directly beneath the headline counts for about 30% of the overall success of your post on LinkedIn, as people notice images much more than they notice text. A photo of you, or you with one other person that the post will reference, is perfect. Choosing and licensing a photo from a site such as Shutterstock is another option. Don't ever skip the photo.

3.Write a concise post.

It depends on what you want to deliver, but typically, 400-600 words is good. Use bold, italics, number and block quotes to add variety to your post. Consider embedding Slideshare presentations and or videos through LinkedIn's easy-to-use toolbar. If you want to become a better writer, here is a post on writing that I wrote.

4. Include two strong "calls to action" at the bottom of your post.

Conclude your post with two calls to action for readers: The first should ask readers to comment and give them specific questions to answer related to your post. As comments are a huge driver of virality on LinkedIn, you'll want to solicit comments from your connections and readers. The second call to action is an offer--this is where you'll drive leads, sell books, or solicit app downloads. Drive people to a landing page on your website with a call to action such as "To learn more, click here." Consider a clickable picture here too.

5. Share the post on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn is most obvious network to share your post on, for obvious reasons. Consider sharing it both publicly (with all of your connections) and privately (through messages to key connections). Consider sharing it with LinkedIn groups you're in, and your company page if you have one. Don't be afraid to share it up to four times, as your friends and colleagues are logged in at different times through the day and week. Ask your network to share your post with their network.

6. Repeat steps 1 through 5.

To obtain the best results, blog consistently, at least once per week, on LinkedIn. Remember, you don't need to reach a million people on LinkedIn in order to make money, you just need to reach a few of the right people. And chances are, no matter what you do, the right people are in your LinkedIn network and your network's network.  To reverse-paraphrase the movie The Social Network:

You know what's cooler than reaching 275 million people on LinkedIn? Reaching the right 275 people, with the right message.

How to Sell Your Photos

Now more than ever, there is high demand for photographers with varying skill levels and their stock photos.  Large corporations, small and medium size business, bloggers, graphic designers, marketers, and publishers have insatiable appetites for new and unique photo content. 

Do you love taking pictures? Does your family ask to see your latest photo art? Are you known in your circle of friends for your amazing photography? Would you like to earn extra money for equipment and travel whilst on photo safaris? If yes yes yes, you may do well selling your pictures as stock photos online, either as a "side hustle" or a full-time career!

What Sells

People - babies, kids, adults, elderly, doing everything and nothing at all, from every walk of life, country and culture... attitude and intent!

People working - using laptops, in the act of writing, public speaking, classes, students, Grandpa teaching Granddaughter to fish, Daughter teaching Dad to use a cell phone....

Food - Capture the flavors, colors, aroma, enjoyment. Settings, plates, feelings, rot and disgust.. joy and awe!

Tools - Gears, hammers, nuts, bolts and screws, in motion, making a difference... creation, destruction!

Cities - Cityscapes, buildings, people commuting, over crowding, traffic, trash wafting in the breeze....

Nature - Landscapes, seascapes, mountains, deserts, sunsets, blizzards, hoarfrost, lightning storms (use caution), new fresh snow....

Travel - Where people live, play, culture, capture what it is like to be there... joy of living, disgust with intruders!

For ideas of what to shoot, check out photo marketplace image categories. But don't limit yourself to "those categories" . Be creative! Capture images that interest you!

How to get started

Learn Your Craft! There are tons of classes and tutorials on the net, as well as traditional photography schools. Learn all you can; learn everything you can. Just don't let what you learn stifle your creativity. Use your new-found knowledge to enhance your capability and the quality of your work.

Experiment with everything!. They say "don't shoot with the sun behind your object". Do it! Often! Figure out how to use the sun to convey time, distance, feeling and emotion. To soften a smile or crater age facial lines with shadows!

"Your shots must be sharp and crystal clear!" No No No Mon Ami! Some photo artists have built careers on slightly blurry satin images. How about a blue tint layer, or red, violet, or gray? 

Just Shoot Shoot Shoot! All the time! Everything you can! At every possible angle. Eventually, you will discover what makes you smile. Then perfect your style!


Harvard Photography Course Skillshare Photography MIT Opencourse Photography NYIPEDU Nikon School of Photography Canon See Imposible


I started out simple and stayed that way. I bought a Nikon Digital SLR camera that included 2 lenses, a 18-55mm and a 55-200mm, for under $500. Because I shoot bugs (insects) a lot, I also opted for a 35mm macro lens. Extra battery, SIM Memory (biggest I could get), and a flash unit (which I never use). My good friend bought a Canon around the same price. He's happy with it and sometime i'm envious. Both are good choices.

This might surprise you, but I also use my Cell phone Camera a lot! Years ago I purchased a Motorola equipped with a 24 megapixel camera and a glass lens. To my surprise, nearly a third of my winning photos were taken with my cell phone. Case in point, A women shooting the Columbia Zoo Otter Exhibit, with thousands of dollars of equipment strapped about her necks, dropped her jaw after watching me take the same shots with my cell phone and viewing the results. Then she got mad!!! Point is, you don't need to spend a lot of money to get started. Just get out there and shoot everything, analyze each shot, experiment, and keep shooting! Put your best shots on the net and ask for comments, and see if anyone buys it. You might be surprised at what you sell and what you learn!

In addition to cameras, you might need some software and a laptop to combine photos and touch them up. Most folks opt for mainstream photo software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom for mucho dinero.  Those are excellent choices. However, I opted for free and open source Gimp and Darktable, and have achieved amazing results.

Where can I sell my stock photos?

1. Your Own Website. Why? You are in control! You have 100% control of how your stock photos are displayed. You set your own terms and conditions. You set your own price. There is "No Cut". All the money comes to you! And there is no competition on "Your Website!" Contact us for hosting, web design, and marketing information.



4. Shutterstock

5. Fotomoto

6. Crestock

7. 500px


Selling your online stock photos can be lucrative and rewarding. Take your time, make it real, have fun. The more time and effort you put into it, the more you will get out of it, If you love it, it can be truly amazing!

How to Turn Off System Windows 7 System Protection – System Restore

If, for some reason, you find that you must turn off System Protection, this is how we do it:

  1. Click Start | Control Panel | System and Maintenance | System (in Classic view, just System)
  2. In the left pane, click System Protection.
  3. Enter the administrator credentials or confirmation if prompted.
  4. Click to uncheck the box next to the drive on which you want to turn off System Protection.
  5. Click OK.

Word of Caution: Turning off System Protection will delete all restore points created for that drive. Turning it back on will not get them back!

How to automatically shutdown your Windows 7 computer at the same time each day

How to automatically shutdown your Windows 7 computer at the same time every day

Many of us leave the computer on all night to receive updates, defrag, and do virus scans. Using this tip will enable you to shut down your computer at a designated time to conserve power, and this is how we do it:

  1. Click the Start button and in the search box, type Scheduled tasks
  2. Click the item when it appears in the search results list under "Control Panel."
  3. In the Task Scheduler console, in the Actions pane on the right, click "Create Basic Task ...".
  4. In the Wizard page that opens, give the task a name such as "Shutdown" and write a description (if you want) such as "Shuts down the computer at 1:00 a.m. every day."

    Click Next.
  5. On the Task Trigger page, select "Daily" and click Next
  6. On the Start Date and Time page, fill in the date and time you want to begin (such as 9/7/11 and 12:00 a.m.) and click Next.
  7. On the Action page, click "Start a Program" and click Next.
  8. On the Start a Program page, in the Program/script field, type:

  9. Windows is installed on a drive other than C, substitute that drive letter.

    Click Next.  
  10. Review the Summary page and click Finish.       

Now Windows will automatically shut down at 12:00 a.m. each day. Just before, a pop-up notification will then display telling you that "Windows will shut down in less than a minute."

How to hide from face-detection technology

If you take Adam Harvey's advice, here's what you might wanna wear to a party this weekend: A funny hat, asymmetrical glasses, a tuft of hair that dangles off your nose bridge and, most likely, a black-and-white triangle taped to your cheekbone. Optional: Cubic makeup patterns all around your eyes.

All of these otherworldly fashion accessories – which could leave a person looking kind of like an opulent villain from "The Hunger Games" - have a singular goal: to stop your face from being detected by cameras and computers. Called CV Dazzle (short for "computer vision dazzle;" more on the name later), Harvey's project is a provocative and largely theoretical response to the rise of surveillance cameras on street corners and face-detecting technology that's been incorporated into social networking sites like Facebook and Flickr.

Read More - Click Here!

Huge Misconception Plaguing Google+

The Huge Misconception Plaguing Google+ image eaihz5dgtgt9hjhgfpfubtogp6t9bovygvvsknqhswk resized 600() The Huge Misconception Plaguing Google+Any time I’m asked where businesses should focus their social media marketing efforts, my default answer is, “Go where your target market or audience gathers, first and foremost. Everything beyond that is secondary.” If your target audience isn’t on Pinterest or Instagram, having a presence there shouldn’t be a primary concern for your business. Elementary stuff, right? Then, there’s Google+, which has fallen prey to a huge misconception among business owners and even a lot of digital marketers.


“My Customers Aren’t on Google+”

While Google+ is definitely growing and becoming more mainstream, it’s still behind Facebook and Twitter in terms of use by “typical” consumers. In the past, I would have agreed most businesses shouldn’t much spend time on Google+, because you’re more likely to reach consumers elsewhere. But hold on! This is Google we’re talking about and the picture is becoming more and more clear every day. To say your customers aren’t on Google+ is a huge misconception based only on a superficial analysis of Google+. Yes, your customers might not have active profiles or intentionally seek out your brand on Google+ in the same way they do on Facebook or Twitter. In that respect, your customers aren’t on Google+.

What Makes Google+ Stand Out?

As Damian Farnworth pointed to on Copyblogger, Google+ is unique, because what’s published on the social network doesn’t stay contained within those walls. Google+ was intentionally constructed in quite the opposite way. Google+ was created to encapsulate all things Google — to act as a “thread” connecting all Google products in one central hub.

So, unlike Facebook, Twitter, and others, Google+ was built to extend far beyond the social network and into areas like search and blogs via Google Authorship and Author Rank, YouTube, Google Places for Business, Google Jobs Board, Google Play, Blogger, and (theoretically) into every Google product in the future. With that said, let’s glance at some fun facts:

  • “Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube.” – YouTube Statistics

The Obvious Conclusion

Google+ already has its hand in many mainstream uses of the Internet and there is every indication that trend will continue. You can’t ignore Google+ with the reasoning that your target customer isn’t there, because that’s essentially saying your customer doesn’t use the Internet for any mainstream purposes. In some respect, your presence on Google+ will impact how you reach your customers, whether that’s through the SEO benefits of Google+, a video being recommended on YouTube, customers leaving or reading business reviews via Google Places, or any yet-to-be-seen relationships between Google and the rest of the web.

Getting Started on Google+

Are you on board with Google+ now? Getting your Google+ presence up and running is a piece of cake, but here are a handful of great resources and additional reads I recommend:

  • Start following Mark Traphagen. I call him the “Google+ King,” but I’m not sure how he feels about that! Regardless, he’s the guy to talk to if you have any questions about Google+.

IE vs Chrome vs Firefox vs Safari vs Opera - Which is Best For You

(@ Digital Trends) The era when Google Chrome was head and shoulders above the competition has ended. Today’s popular browsers compete on a level playing field. Internet Explorer 11 — the oft overlooked Microsoft standby — has blossomed into a lean and fast browser for Widows 8. Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Google Chrome continue to ramp up their version numbers, and Safari tenaciously scuttles along as the under-appreciated byproduct of Apple’s quest for global domination. Gone are the days when choosing a browser for all your Internet perusing needs was a no brainer. Today, with all the competition, choosing the right browser has become a something of a tough decision. Fortunately, you can’t really go wrong with any of the popular browsers anymore, but there are a few things here and there that give each its own competitive edge over the others.

Installation, updates, and compatibility

Installation across the five browsers is inherently the same. Users can download them from their respective websites if they aren’t built into your operating system already (i.e. Safari comes pre-installed on Mac OS X and IE 11 on Windows 8), and each will typically download in under 30 seconds depending on your Internet connection. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer will force you to fully reboot your machine, likely due to the increased hardware acceleration and several updated features. The rest of our lineup doesn’t require a reboot, only a quick browser closure.

Below is a list of browser compatibility.

Google Chrome: Windows, Mac OS X and Linux

Mozilla Firefox : Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (Not compatible on iOS)

Internet Explorer (32 and 64-bit): Windows (7 & 8)

Safari: Mac OS X (Safari 5.17 is available to download for Windows)

Opera Next: Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

When it comes to updates, Opera, Firefox, and Chrome have the advantage. They install silently, quickly, and transparently download updates in the background and automatically apply the new software when you re-launch the programs. What’s more, the third-party browsers update most frequently, every few-weeks, so any major problems are likely to be fixed quicker than IE and Safari. Users can also manually install updates on Firefox if they would like to have greater control over the browser or prefer to use an older version for whatever reason. Keep in mind that turning off automatic updates is more likely to put your computer at risk though, since each browser is continuously adding security fixes and other key stability updates.

Design & ease of use

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that the current trend in browser design is for the browser to disappear entirely. IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome all attempt to be as minimal as possible, offering next to no actual text and small, monochromatic buttons that blend right into the look of operating systems like Windows 8 and Mac OS X. Overall, all five browsers appear to achieve their goals fairly well, with different strengths and weaknesses.

Google Chrome 35

Google Chrome 35

Google Chrome offers a lean address bar configuration, stripping everything down into a simple tab layout and address bar configuration that also doubles as a search bar Google calls the “Omnibox.” Like most browsers, the window can get incredibly cramped with 15+ tabs open, but it still does a fantastic job of delivering content whether you have the browser fully expanded or slightly minimized for the sake of space. Adjacent to the omnibox is Chrome’s simple standard navigational features (i.e. back, forward, refresh, home) by default, but you can easily slim down the window by customizing the toolbar and deleting any buttons you deem invaluable. Chrome’s single-click bookmarking method, done by simply clicking the star located on the right side of the address bar, also makes bookmarking your favorite webpages a breeze and hassle-free experience.

Mozilla Firefox 30

Mozilla Firefox 30

Mozilla Firefox features a similar, yet useful layout when compared to its competitors, placing the tab bar above the address bar. Despite reaching version 30 of the software (it skipped versions 18 and 11 through 16, apparently), it still slightly feels like the bulky predecessors of the software, refusing to unite the address and search bars in a single unified field like all of its peers. The browser offers the same kind of single-click bookmarking that Chrome does — all you have to do is click the star located in the address field — but there isn’t much else that separates it from the rest of the pack. Instead of sporting a gear or similar icon button for its settings, Firefox opts for an orange “Firefox” button in the upper-left corner in Windows version of the browser, taking up a tiny bit of space that could otherwise be used by the tab bar.

Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer Technically, IE 11 is the most minimal internet device of the four, with less “chrome” than Chrome. IE 11 features a single bar that simultaneously functions as the browser’s address and search bar. The space at the top places your open tabs to the right of the address-search bar, making it somewhat more cluttered than some of our other picks given the amount of space the search field takes up, but it typically isn’t worrisome unless you’re really stacking up a high volume of tabs. Other notable design features include the single-click bookmarking star now widely adopted by almost all other prominent browsers.


Safari 7

Safari The browser that has traditionally attracted critics, is now a serious competitor to the likes of Google and Firefox. The newest version of Apple’s innate software is fairly minimalistic in design, but retains enough familiarity for old users of the browser to feel at home. Like its peers, Safari offers the address-search bar hybrid , along with a bookmark-tab bar that tightly sits below the former for an approach that proves both user-friendly and attractive. Unfortunately, the browser lacks a single-click bookmarking tool, forcing users to click through several hurdles for something that should be as easy as 1-2-3. Regardless, it’s still a clean design that should dissuade you from giving it a go. Mac users running the most recent operating system can even launch the browser in full-screen mode, essentially expanding the window and for the ultimate viewing experience.

Opera browser 1

Opera 22

Opera embraces Google’s chromium search engine but retains signature features that distinguish this browser from the rest. Like Chrome (and everyone else), Opera has a single hybrid address-search bar. But the reputable alternative browser also sports Opera’s signature features, stash and speed dial. Speed dial allows for easy bookmarking and functions like “the most visited page” on Safari. Stash is similar to Pocket, it allows you to store pages for future browsing. The bottom line, it’s a clean design with innovative features that holds its own against the rest of the competition.

Benchmark Tests Compared

Most of the browsers are compatible with Web standards and handle speed with relative ease. A casual user probably won’t notice a difference in the Web page rendering speed between browsers. All four browsers are much faster and leaner than browsers even a few years ago and becoming even more so with every new software build. Below are our benchmark results for the four browsers, bold text indicates the winner for each category.



Sunspider Kraken JavaScript Octane 2.0 HTML5 Compliance
Chrome 35 100 555.7 ms 1590.4 ms 23881 506/555
Internet Explorer 11 100 91.8 ms 2234.2 ms 14958 374/555
Mozilla Firefox 30 100 164.5 ms 1316.0 ms 20757 467/555
Safari 7 100 280.4 ms 55.89 fps 5377 378/500
Opera 22 100 188.2 ms 1496.5 ms 23961 497/555

Google Chrome bested the HTML5 compliance benchmark, the test that indicates how “future-forward” a browser is. Even so, Chrome underpreformed when it came to overall processing speed, as indicated in the Sunspider benchmark test. Internet Explore, though ranking rather low in the HTML 5 Compliance benchmark tests, managed to outpace the competition in speed-gauging Sunspider benchmark. Naturally, Firefox bested the competition in it’s native Mozilla Kraken Javascript test, the test that benchmarks rendering time. Surprisingly, Opera performed the best in the Octane 2.0 test, which measures how your browser will preform under the stress of games or highly interactive web-pages. Take note, test results can fluctuate at any given time, but all five browsers are worthy contenders when it comes to sheer speed and Web standard compatibility.


Features are what truly separate one browser from the next given that speed and compatibility are no longer really an issue. That being said, each browser does have its own slate of differentiating features, from expansive app stores and add-ons to various extensions and tools, that makes it shine in its own light.

Chrome Web StoreChrome differentiates itself through its constant updates, but also through its extensive Web Apps Store, which offers apps that blur the line between Web and local apps in some unique ways. Much of this philosophy comes from Chrome OS, Google’s desktop operating system based on the Chrome browser. Still, we like the idea and Chrome remains the most integrated software for accessing anything Google related (i.e. Gmail, Google Drive, etc.). If Web apps and seamless dashboard features are important to you, check out what Google has to offer.

Check out the mobile versions for Android and iOS devices while you’re at it.

green puzzle piece

Like Chrome, Firefox is on a six-week update schedule, and sports a strong catalog of extensions. Developers will have to retool many of these to support Firefox 33, but some user refuse to leave Firefox solely because it offers unique extensions that have become essential to their browsing experience. Most other browsers support add-ons, but Firefox may have a lead in mindshare here (for now). The built-in PDF viewer is incredibly handy, as is the browser’s support for Macbook Retina displays and grouped tabs, and Firefox remains the most customizable in terms of interface and display out of the four on our list.

Currently, Firefox only offers a mobile version of its browser for Android devices.

Safari ExtensionsSafari may not have the admirable extension catalog to rival its peers, but it does have offer a good deal of extensions and utilities for productivity and organization. Unlike Firefox and Chrome though, the third-party extensions are rather bland and aren’t as integrated into the software as they probably could be. The bulk of them also lack the “fun” factor found on other browsers, but hopefully Apple will take a cue from the current market and work more accessible and entertaining extensions into the Safari Extensions Gallery. Other awesome built-in extras include the ad-free Safari Reader, which lets you view solely text without all the unnecessary clutter, and comprehensive iCloud integration syncing pages across all devices.

Safari’s mobile version comes preinstalled on iOS devices.

Internet Explorer Add-onsIE11 sports heavy integration and optimization for Windows 7 and 8. Many functions, like turning tabs into new windows, are much easier with Microsoft’s new browser. It retains some of the unique features introduced in IE10, like individual tab previewing from the task bar and a new feature called site pinning, which lets you ‘pin’ a Web site to the Windows 8 task bar like you would a normal application. However, unlike an ordinary taskbar shortcut, pinned Web sites can offer customized “right click” menus. For example, pinning the Facebook toolbar will let you right click and auto browse to different sections of the Facebook site like News, Messages, Events and Friends. In addition, when you open a pinned site, the IE11 browser customizes itself to resemble the site you’re viewing. Currently, this means an icon in the upper left and new colors for the back and forward buttons, but we like the idea.

IE’s mobile version comes preinstalled on Windows devices.

oprea add on 2Creating a browser that can compete with the browser giants is an an uphill battle for Opera. Though, the decision to embed Chromium has proven to pay dividends for the Scandinavian company. Opera’s add-ons library utilizes Chrome’s major apps, mail, pocket, etc. Thankfully, Opera doesn’t attempt to beat Google at its own game. Sure, the extensive web-app store offers a variety of mostly-free apps, but Opera’s extensions is centered around their signature tool, Speed Dial- a touch-screen optimized homepage. Each extension can be tacked to Opera’s speed dial homepage. The simplicity of having your gmail account stored next to a news aggregatior all on your homepage is hard to pass up.

Opera can be installed on every major mobile device.

Security and Privacy

The most valuable tool for secure browsing is user discretion. Sure, every browser has encountered security broaches in the past. And Internet Explorer and Chrome’s reputation for protecting users’ security and privacy credentials is spotty at best. Chrome, Safari, and Firefox rely on Google’s Safe Browsing API to detect potentially dangerous sites. Thanks to constant updates, Mozilla, Chrome and Opera all make constant security updates. But Chrome takes security a bit further by also scanning for potentially harmful downloads. There’s also encryption ad-ons currently in the works at Google. All browsers offer a privacy session option. Private sessions prevent the storage of history, temporary Internet files, and cookies. For example, Internet Explorer 11 features a security measure called Tracking Protection. Only Internet Explorer goes so far to block trackers completely from communicating with your browser. What’s more, according to a 2013 NSS study, only Internet Explorer blocks trackers more than 90% of potentially hazardous sites.


StatCounter-browser-ww-monthly-201306-201405 According to the latest numbers from StatCounter, Chrome was the top browser for May 2014, garnering over 45 percent of the global browser market share and steadily solidifying its spot as top dog. IE and Firefox continue to be popular, holding roughly 20 and 18 percent respectively, but seem to be leveling out as the IE hype tapers off. Safari and Opera round off the top 5, fixed at around 10 percent and 1 percent respectively. On the mobile side, Chrome wins out but Opera’s touch-screen optimized browser holds an impressive mobile browser market share (12%). Another recent studyshows different results, with Internet Explorer holding a firm grasp on the top spot.

Which browser is best?

Good question. It may come down to preference. Each browser has strengths and weaknesses. Chrome has the largest and most useful selection of apps, extensions, and a rapid release update schedule. Other browsers, however, are upping their game. Now, Opera and Firefox offer similar frequent updates and IE 11 out-preforms Chrome on Sunspider’s benchmark standards. The bottom line is this, we’re in an era where the most minimal and modular browser reins supreme. Chrome still the leanest and most app ready browsing experience. IE, Firefox, and Opera have narrowed its lead significantly, each offering new features that can better accommodate some users needs. According to our benchmark tests alone, Mozilla Firefox is the best option for speed and managing highly-interactive webpages. For the first time in a long time we can’t claim a strong victor here. All major browsers offer a solid browsing experience with few downsides.

IPv6 Address Breakdown

data_1.jpg( @ Data Center) Let’s take a long hard look at an IPv6 address. Amazon supply IPv6 addresses with their EC2 cloud computers. When you fire up an EC2 virtual machine, you get an IPv6 address like this.



There’s a lot of meaning packed into that strange-looking identifier. A few companies have tackled IPv6 but to most it’s just plain confusing. Why is it so confusing? And how can you decipher what it means?

Connect to your AWS EC2 instance, find your network interface and its IPv6 address, and let’s do some serious IPv6 breakdown.

The name of your EC2 network interface is eth0

Every physical computer has sockets with cables plugged into them and so does your virtual EC2 machine. Each network socket has a stack of names and addresses (MAC, IPv4, and IPv6) and a stack of networking software to do the talking. These are collectively referred to as “the interface”.

Use the ip addr command to display lots of information about your EC2 network interfaces.

 [ec2-user@ip-10-167-15-124 ~]$ ip addr

1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 16436 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN

 link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00

 inet scope host lo

 inet6 ::1/128 scope host

 valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast state UP qlen 1000

 link/ether 22:00:0a:a7:0f:7c brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff

 inet brd scope global eth0

 inet6 fe80::2000:aff:fea7:f7c/64 scope link

 valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

[ec2-user@ip-10-167-15-124 ~]$ 

That’s a dozen lines packed with details, written in a shorthand that makes it hard to read. At this low level, you have to take more care describing your work to others. As with all common collective terms like “server” and “cloud”, “interface” is an easy way to describe the big picture but not so great for details. IPv6 is one of those details.

Information overload is confusing

In the land of film and TV, the sound engineer has to listen to a constant barrage of noise and learn to pick out the details that are important. It’s the same for the system administrator – the CLI (Command Line Interface) fills up with data and you learn to see the good stuff and filter out the rest.

All that information displayed by the ip addr command is organized into two numbered sections, for the two network interfaces, lo and eth0:


  • The lo name is short for loopback, a name left over from the days of soldered wires. The lo interface is only meant for use within this EC2 machine, not to talk to the outside world.
  • The eth0 name is short for Ethernet interface number 0 - Ethernet is the dominant networking technology (after winning the 1980s protocol wars) and 0 is from IT’s traditional way of counting (no, there is no good reason to start from 0 instead of 1). The eth0 interface is what customers use – including you and your SSH client - so that’s what we care about.


We can ignore the lo section and stare at the eth0 section until details start to emerge.

My IPv6 address is fe80::2000:aff:fea7:f7c

The IPv6 address is on this line.

inet6 fe80::2000:aff:fea7:f7c/64 scope link

You can filter out the words on either side of the big address. The word at the start of the line - inet6 - is a label. Like all text in the world of Linux, it is abbreviated to save on typing and display space. The words scope link tell network administrators that this is a normal address for sending and receiving information (there are a few variations on this theme to meet obscure needs).  

The /64 bit stuck on the end of that string fe80::2000:aff:fea7:f7c/64 is a leftover from IPv4 days. It’s called CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing) - it’s a network administrator thing. CIDR is used to split an address in half – the first part is used as an address for the network and the second part as an address for the computer.

This /64 isn’t required. IPv6 isn’t like IPv4. That fe80 field at the start means the same thing to a network administrator.

Hexadecimal is confusing

The IPv6 address show by that ip addr command is fe80::2000:aff:fea7:f7c. That’s a translation, not the original address. An IPv6 address that a computer sees is not fe80::2000:aff:fea7:f7c – it is 128 zeros and ones in a great big long row.

Binary data is no good for people so an IPv6 address is translated into hexadecimal, split into 8 fields, and colons are placed between these eight fields. It’s a system that only a scientist can love.

Each field is a collection of four hexadecimal digits, like that fe80 at the start. Now I’ve mentioned three different number systems, which is enough to put off most people.


  • binary digits are 0 and 1. The computer uses these.
  • The decimal digits that everyone knows are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
  • There are sixteen hexadecimal digits - 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, a, b, c, d, e and f.


The IPv6 rules are confusing

If an IPv6 address is 8 sets of hexadecimal digits, what’s going on with fe80::2000:aff:fea7:f7c?  That’s six sets, not eight. And no way are there four digits in each part.

This address does not follow the pattern of 8 sets of 4 hexadecimal digits. If you count the fields around the colons, you get six. A couple of fields seem to be missing entirely, and those six fields vary in size.


  • The first field is fe80 - that’s OK, it’s four hexadecimal digits.
  • The second field doesn’t have any digits at all.
  • The fourth one – aff – only has three digits.


What’s happened is your operating system started out with an IPv6 address that is 8 fields of four digits, like this.


Then it applied a couple of IPv6 address shortening rules.

Rule #1: You can replace a big string of zeros with the symbol “::”.

The OS uses this rule to turn fe80:0000:0000:0000:2000:0aff:fea7:0f7c into:


Your SSH server listens to all interfaces. In IPv6 speak, the address for all interfaces is all zeros, like this: 0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000. The OS uses this rule to change this really long address into the really short:


Using your sysadmin skills, enter the command netstat –an, which displays lots of network interface information (this command is safe – it makes no changes). See if you can spot that symbol in the list it displays.

Rule #2: You can remove the leading zeros in a field.

The OS uses this rule to turn fe80::2000:0aff:fea7:0f7c into:


Practice, practice, practice

An IPv6 address is built in this way to make the Internet work. The Internet is full of machines that need to figure out how to communicate automatically, without human intervention. It’s hard for us poor humans to make the shift from IPv4 to IPv6, but it will make the Internet a better place.

Like everything in life, IPv6 takes practice. The more you work on IPv6, the more you will see through the cloud of confusion to the clever engineering.

IT pros recommend Macs to friends and family to avoid providing free tech support

angrytechsupport.jpg Image: iStockphoto/Smithore

IT pros are diehard when it comes to their recommendations on personal computers, but some are bending their convictions to avoid becoming a go-to support system

( @ TechRepublic) As an IT pro, it can be hard to explain just what you do to your friends and family. Failed attempts to explain what a system administrator is results in you answering the question of, "What do you do?" with simply "I work in computers."

Being known as the "techie" of your family is nice little boost to your ego in the beginning, but it can quickly become the most frustrating aspect of your existence. Recommending a computer to a friend or family isn't the hard part, it's the hand-holding and support that comes with it. To get around this, many IT pros, who are resilient in their pledge to support Windows or Linux products, have begun recommending Apple computers.

When it comes to personal computers, Microsoft and Apple are still the warring factions of the IT world, but stepping over the proverbial line in the sand doesn't hold the connotations that it used to. By recommending Apple products, IT pros are able to avoid some of the most common troubleshooting issues and pawn off some of the work.

Part of this has to do with the products themselves, and the other part of it is the existing support structure Apple has created. Let's take a look at why some IT pros are doing what would have once been considered unthinkable and pointing recommendees toward Macs.

The products

One of the main groans we hear from our readers is the lack of customization with Apple products, and it's true. Apple owners are subject to the pre-set packages that the company deems appropriate while Windows and Linux users have a myriad of options when buying or building a machine. But, most average users aren't looking for that level of customizability.

Andrew Soderberg, vice president of customer support at OmniUpdate, Inc. and a long-standing Mac proponent, said that ceding that control is a blessing, not a curse.

"I used to 'love' getting in and customizing and tweaking computer settings for myself and others. Now, as much as I like the idea of 'total control', I don't have the time or the inclination to do that; and with a Mac, you don't have to. I believe that Apple has found a pretty good balance between flexibility for the user (via safe well designed user interfaces) and 'lock down' where users shouldn't or can't mess with settings they don't know how they affect the use of the computer," Soderberg said.

For most family tech support providers, malware cleanup and software/OS installs are the majority of what they end up dealing with. While Apple products are not impervious to malware attacks, they are easier to keep clean. If you have to end up troubleshooting a Mac, running a McAfee scan probably won't turn up much. Abdul Jaludi, CEO at TAG-MC, recalls the calls he used to received from friends and family with Windows products.

"Many of these calls were technical issues where the vendor technical support dropped the ball and gave them bad information or just didn't want to be bothered, telling them they needed a new PC. I can't remember how many times I had to rebuild a PC that I recommended someone buy because of the blue screen of death or a virus infection," Jaludi said.

A lot of what finally pushes IT pros over the line to recommend Apple products is the "set it and forget it" mentality of their products. It's not that any one tech pro hates their family members, but constantly seeing your family under the guise of fixing a computer can put a strain on that relationship. While you will probably end up troubleshooting a Mac or two that you have recommended, the good news is that you don't have to if that person lives close to an Apple store -- pawn them off on the "Geniuses."

SEE: Decoding the Genius Bar: A former employee shares insider secrets for getting help at the Apple Store


For those of you that can't stand to field another call about why an iPhone won't sync or why there is a spinning beachball of death, the Apple Store can help bail them out.

"If I do decide to help a friend or family [with a Mac], I can figure it out. If I am to busy or the client doesn't have a budget, Apple does offer great support in-store and with the purchase of Applecare," said Adam Silver, creative director at Silver Lining Productions.

Busy tech professionals have to consider how much their time is worth, and do they want to be spending their evenings and weekends doing what they do in their day job. Many of them have decided that they don't, and that it is easier to recommend people to get Macs and use the Apple Store for support.

"When the hard drive on my wife's Mac started making noise we took it to the Apple Store. They backed up her data, replaced the failing hard drive, reinstalled the operating system then restored her data," Jaludi said. "It only took them a day and even though the warranty had been expired for several years, they only charged her for the hard drive and not for the labor to replace it, reinstall the Mac OS or to move her data. If this had been a Windows PC, even if it was under warranty, I would had to spend an entire day or more doing the same thing.

In An Internet Minute

Guess what happens in an Internet minute? 204 million emails are sent, six million Facebook pages are viewed and 1.3 million YouTube clips are downloaded

    Figures also reveal 47,000 apps are downloaded, and 20 people have their identities stolen

    Study predicts that by 2015 the number of networked devices on the Earth will be double the number of people

    Astonishing figures that show the true scale of our online activity have been revealed.

The new study, by chipmaker Intel, found that more than 204 million emails are sent every minute, while 47,000 apps are downloaded and retail giant Amazon rings up around £55,000 ($83,000) in sales.

Around 20 million photos and 6 million Facebook pages are viewed, while we also watch 1.3 million video clips on YouTube.

Intel's internet minute infographic reveals exactly what we do online - with 639,800GB of data transferred

Intel's internet minute infographic reveals exactly what we do online - with 639,800GB of data transferred



More than 204 million emails are sent

Amazon rings up about £55,00 ($83,000) in sales

Around 20 million photos are viewed and 3,000 uploaded on Flickr

At least 6 million Facebook pages are viewed around the world 

More than 61,000 hours of music are played on Pandora

More than 1.3 million video clips are watched on YouTube

Nearly 640,00 Gb of global IP data is transferred in just one Internet minute, the researchers found.

'Computing is transforming and touching more people in a wider range of devices,' said Intel's Krystal Temple.

'But while it’s hard to miss the proliferation of portable devices, it’s what we don’t see that’s the bigger issue.

'What many don’t see is that the increase in mobile devices has had a tremendous impact on the amount of data traffic crossing the network.

'It’s a little easier to comprehend once we think about all that’s done on a connected device like a smartphone.

'Listening to music, watching videos, downloading photos, playing online games, refreshing Twitter feeds and status updates – all of those activities generate network traffic.'

The study also looked at how the data could expand dramatically in the future.

It predicted that by 2015, the number of networked devices is expected to be double the world’s population.

It would take five years to view all the video content crossing IP networks each second by then.

One of Google's brightly coloured data centers in Douglas Country: New figures reveal exactly what happens on the internet every minute

One of Google's brightly coloured data centers in Douglas Country: New figures reveal exactly what happens on the internet every minute

The chip giant also revealed it is developing new networking equipment to deal with the increase in traffic.

Codenamed 'Crystal Forest,' that will boost performance and beef up network security to handle the increasing network traffic.

'By enabling equipment manufacturers and services providers to deliver platforms that grow along with the network, Intel is also enabling consumers to stay connected on intelligent devices every Internet minute of the day,' Intel said.

Install Watchtower Library 2013 with Linux

We are currently using two Linux laptops, both are running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin). These process also works on the current Debian 7.4 (Weezy). For both of them the installation is about the same.

#1. Install Wine 1.2 or better. Which ever version of wine that you decide to use, make sure it is a “stable” version and not a development or beta version. In Ubuntu use Applications > Ubuntu Software Center. In Debian, click System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager.

#2. If you are using Wine 1.2 you will need to download iphlpapi.dll from Place the file in folder If you re using Wine 1.3 or better, you can skip this step.

#3. Now let’s configure Wine to run Watchtower Library. Start Wine by clicking Applications  > Wine > Configure Wine, then click on "Libraries". In the field New Override, enter "iphlpapi" and click "Add". You may see the warning message. If so, simply click Yes. Close and exit Wine.

#4. Open your Documents folder and create a new folder named WT2013. Copy the contents of the Watchtower Library 2013 to the WT2013 folder.

#5. Next we will need to change the permissions on the executable files in the WT2013 folder. Simply open the folder, and for each file that ends in .exe, do a right mouse click, click Properties > Permissions, and fill the check box that say “Allow execution file as a program”.

#6. You are now ready to install Watchtower Library 2013. Simply double-click startup.exe and follow the prompts.

#7. You will be presented with two Watchtower Library 2013 shortcuts on your desktop. Keep the one that looks pretty and delete the other one. Now Double Click the remaining Watchtower Library 2013 shortcut.

On some systems, you might see lines instead of text. No worries here, all you need to do is install a True Type font, and you are in business.

#1. Go to Applications > Internet > terminal

#2. Ubuntu: Type the following: sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer, then enter admin password

       Debian: Type the following: su, enter admin password,  apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

#3. Restart Watchtower Library and everything should work just fine.

Note: If you cannot see the text or if the text looks like 00000000 00000, simply choose a new font in Library > Properties

Internet Cable DSL Satellite Hitting Fed Targets

Photo(James Hood @ ConsumerAffairs) Think you're not getting the download speed your broadband provider promised? You might be right but a study by the Federal Communications Commission finds many providers are not only meeting but exceeding their advertised speeds.

That's a big improvement over 2011, when the first FCC survey found many providers not delivering the speeds they promised.

In the latest report, Verizon FiOS service averaged download speeds that were 118% of advertised download rates. Cablevision was at 115% and Comcast 103%.

“Faster broadband has brought untold benefits to millions of Americans - from distance learning to distance healthcare," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said. "This is good news for consumers and the economy, but we can’t be satisfied. To unleash innovation and realize broadband’s full potential, we must continue to see increases in broadband speed and capacity.”

In this year’s report, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) maintained 
their performance levels, delivering 97 percent of advertised speeds during peak periods. One provider significantly improved actual performance speeds by 13 percent from the previous report.

Did they do it by downgrading the speeds they promised, as some skeptics might suspect? No, said the FCC, the providers have actually improved their networks to improve performance.

Consumers have also doing some upgrading of their own, the report found, ordering faster speeds to satisfy their thirst for movies, music and other bandwidth-hungry applications.

The FCC found that the average speed tier subscribed to by consumers increased from 14.3 Megabits per second (Mbps) to 15.6 Mbps. Nearly half of consumers who subscribed to speeds of less than 1 Mbps six months ago have adopted higher speeds, and nearly a quarter of the users who subscribed to speeds between 1 Mbps and 3 Mbps have upgraded to faster speed tiers. 

Satellite performance

In what may come as a surprise to many consumers, the FCC also found that "significant improvements" have been made to satellite broadband technology service quality.

For the first time, the report includes results on satellite technology based on test results from ViaSat, a major satellite services provider.

"Although satellite technology has the highest overall latency, test results indicate that during peak periods, 90 percent of satellite consumers received 140 percent or better of the advertised speed of 12 Mbps," the report said, adding that there was "very little difference" between peak and non-peak performance.

ViaSat and HughesNet have both launched new satellites, which they say should provide vastly better service than their earlier models, a claim that's supported by the FCC's findings.

The "latency" that the FCC report referred to is the time it takes a signal to travel from earth to the satellite and back again. This creates a noticeable lag that often causes consumers to see the service as "slow" when in fact the data transfer rate is usually on par with advertised speeds, as the FCC report confirmed. 

Until someone figures out how to increase the speed of light, the satellite lag is here to stay and is not the fault of the service provider. 

To read the complete February 2013 "Measuring Broadband America" report, see

Read More - Click Here!

Read More - Click Here!

Internet hoaxes are a new fact of life

(Mark Huffman Consumer Affairs) Lies produced and spread on the Internet have been a staple of online life for years now, but have mostly remained in the background. However, one spectacular hoax burst into full view this week, rocking the collegiate sports world.

Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o, the runner-up for last year's Heisman Trophy, had been cited for his emotional courage by remaining on the gridiron despite the reported early autumn deaths of both his beloved grandmother and girlfriend within 24 hours. The grandmother was real but it turns out, the girlfriend never existed.

In numerous interviews with the sporting press during Notre Dame's undefeated season, Te'o spoke in great detail about the young woman and Stanford grad, who he said had tragically died of leukemia September 12. Now, he says he only engaged with her online, and it was revealed this week she never existed.

Internet's dark side

While this sensational and bizarre story has yet to fully play out, it's a reminder of the Internet's dark side -- its ability to transmit completely erroneous information with a perplexing degree of credibility. One sees it in forwarded emails and Facebook posts. Someone receives a message that is either misinformed or an outright hoax and passes it on as gospel. Soon, people accept it as truth.

"Folks have a real tendency to believe much of the information online as they feel anything published must have some competency as many have thought in the non-digital world," Marcus P. Zillman, an author and expert on Internet hoaxes, told ConsumerAffairs. "Many have never experienced an educational endeavor of learning what misinformation is and how it truly affects society in today's New Economy."

Debunking hoaxes

Internet hoaxes have spawned a number of websites that do nothing but shoot them down. describes itself as a "reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation." In one example, it takes on the Darwin Awards, which were a subject of a popular circular email a decade ago.

The Darwin Awards were a series of news items detailing the death of some person who died as the result of incredibly stupid behavior. Most readers accepted these as fact.

"As is the norm for such Internet circulated lists, Darwin Awards-2006 email is a mixed bag," Snopes editors write. "There are some actual incidents, accurately chronicled, one that we know is an out and out fake, and a handful of others that we can't yet authoritatively prove or disprove. Interestingly, while this compilation purports to be from 2006, all of its entries date from 1995 through 1998."

The emails, the editors concluded, were authored not by a Darwin Awards Committee but by persons unknown.

Brett Christensen, of the Australian website, says people tend to accpt information they receive online because it comes from someone they trust. But in many cases, he says, it plays on their prejudices.

"Hoaxes often cater to preconceived ideas held by the recipient," Christensen said. "If a hoax message seems to confirm a person's views on religion, politics or general perception of the world, he or she is perhaps more apt to send it on without investigating its claims. In other words, if you really want to believe it, you might tend to overlook or excuse any logical inconsistencies or suspect claims that a hoax message contains."

Romance scams

Perhaps nowhere are Internet hoaxes more devastating than in affairs of the heart. It happens all the time on online dating sites, where a relationship begins without a face to face meeting -- many times with painful consequences.

Over the years ConsumerAffairs has received a large number of reports from dating site users who became emotionally involved with someone online, only to find out they were being scammed. David, of Loveland, Colorado, said he fell for a romance scam when he thought he was helping a young Russian woman stranded in a foreign country.

"Since then I have been approached on every dating site I have joined by supposed women who are stranded in Nigeria or Ghana," David wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. "When the dating sites are notified they are scammers they do nothing about it."

Lately, dating sites have done more to warn users about possible scams, and a reading of the most recent ConsumerAffairs posts suggests users are now more savvy. Patsy, of San Antonio, Tex., writes that she spotted an attempted scam on right off the bat.

"He said he was from Germany, working on a project in Nigeria," Patsy wrote. "I come from a German family and the accent was definitely not German, another red flag. So, I continued to play along and last night he asked for a loan of $600.00, I declined. He wasn't too happy about that, so I just signed off."


These scams, of course, have a profit motive. The people attempting to fool unsuspecting love-seekers are hoping for a payday. But in recent years there is a new breed of Internet imposter, who may or may not be at the center of the current Manti Te'o firestorm.

These are people who create identities and try to fool people just for fun. There's even a name for it -- "Catfishing," named after an MTV series that outs Catfishers. High profile individuals, such as athletes, appear to be common targets.

A "Catfisher" will fabricate a profile and take someone's picture from their Facebook account to trick their victim into thinking they are someone who desires a relationship with them. Why they do it is anyone's guess. But profit does not seem to be a motive.

Here are three questions to ask yourself if you think you are being Catfished:

  • Why won't this person engage in a video chat with me?
  • Why won't this person agree to a face-to-face meeting?
  • Is this person too good to be true?

If there are not good answers to these questions, chances are you're being played as the victim of an Internet hoax.

As for the media's role in the Manti Te'o hoax, Christensen says it might be excused in this instance for swallowing the fabricated story hook, line and sinker, but in others, he sees it as very culpable.

"For example, a number of media outlets reported on the claims that the Google Street View car killed a donkey in Botswana," he said. "However, even some fairly basic research by journalists writing these stories should have been enough to reveal that the claims were untrue."

For consumers of the Internet, it means maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism, and not believing everything you read.

Read Also!

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Invoicing Slippery Slope

Invoicing is a slippery slope that can quickly become a devastating liquidly nightmare. The easiest way to put a company in peril is to delay invoicing. If billing doesn't go out in a timely manner, cash won't come in. The solution is simple!

Invoice Daily!.

Numerous studies indicate quick receipt of accurate bills improves customer satisfaction any payment. Possibly more important is that timely invoicing helps reduce bad debt and increases the likelihood of receiving full payment within traditional remittance cycles.

Billing Practices To Avoid

#1. Don't wait to prepare and distribute invoices on the 15th and 30th of each month. This common billing routine is inefficient and dangerous. It artificially limits your cash flow by automatically delaying invoice cycles. Worse, firms following this model tie up their cash, credit lines, and artificially inflate Accounts Receivables. This is especially true for businesses  that incur labor and/or material costs up-front. Following this model results in your business providing customers with interest-free loans. That's not a smart business model.

#2. Avoid billing hardware/Materials and software/Labor costs on the same invoice. When a client signs off on a project, the next step is typically for the company to order or build the required hardware/materials. Companies sometimes wait to bill for that hardware/material when the deployment completes; this can negatively impact cash-flow, especially when multiple systems are deployed. Bill for the hardware upfront (i.e., the day it's ordered)! Better yet, accept a cash deposit before placing the order.

#3. Bill Daily! Waiting to complete billing tasks, even a couple days (even if you take great notes), opens up an opportunity for errors (that can damage your invoicing credibility). Also, you are still limiting cash flow. Worse, you're creating delays between the time service is provided and a bill is received. The longer that gap, the higher the likelihood that payment problems could arise.

#4. If possible, allow the project manager to complete the invoice. Whichever engineer completes a project, that's the staff member who should enter the billing information. While there's nothing wrong with having a director or a supervisor review client invoices before they're mailed, unless the actual technician performing the service prepares the bill, it's quite likely that an additional service the client requested and received may go unbilled.

All things considered, it makes sense (dollars and cents) to distribute invoices daily as it benefits cash flow, improves client satisfaction, increases the likelihood of quick payment in full, and reduces the possibility of bad debt and liquidity issues.

Is It Okay to Unfriend on Facebook?

Can’t remember if the fork goes on the left and the spoon goes on the right? For perfect P's and Q's, you know exactly whom to ask: Emily Post.
But what are the rules when you're talking with a friend and she whips out her cellphone to check her email, or when someone you never liked in high school suddenly wants to be friends on Facebook? Who’s there to tell you the right thing to do?  Once again, it’s Emily Post

Read More - Click Here!

Is Social Desktop the Future of Computing?

Social networking is one of the biggest buzzwords in the tech industry today - but what if you could bring all the sharing abilities of a social network site right to your desktop? Microsoft's Social Desktop does allows you to share documents, pictures, ... without having to copy or upload them to another location. To me, the security implications are a little scary, and that would have to be addressed, but what with the push toward the \"cloud,\" I wouldn't be surprised if this eventually became the computing model of the next generation. Read more here:

'Future of SSD (Solid State Disk Drives) According To Samsung

Solid state drives offer a number of advantages over traditional platter-based hard disks: they are smaller, faster and less prone to failure because they lack moving parts. But the big reason we aren't all using them is that they cost far more than a traditional hard disk drive. A quick check of Newegg shows several models of 80 GB SATA hard drives for under $40. The least expensive 80 GB SSD is $363. That's quite a difference. But a representative of Samsung, which makes both types of drives, recently suggested that the two will reach price parity within the next few years. Read more here:

Web Pages: How To Print Selected Text

Want to print just a part of a web page? One way to do it is to copy the text you want and paste it into Word, then print the document - but there's an easier way.

  1. Highlight the specific text (or image) you want to print.
  2. Press CTRL + P or click File | Print.
  3. In the Print Range dialog, click the option button for \"Selection\" (\"All\" is the default).
  4. Click OK.

This will print only the selected portion of the page.


Is The Pen Outdated?

Reports of the untimely demise of the ink pen have been greatly exaggerated. Case and point: Just try to buy a house or execute a legal document of any kind without "pulling out the pen!” Courts of law and financial institutions want to see nothing but ink at the bottom of the document. Only then is the deal truly "done."

In ancient times, to consummate an agreement, known as a covenant,  a stone monument was erected and the parties to the agreement left their mark on the monument in blood, showing that the covenant was seriously binding upon all parties. Thus the expressions "written in stone" and "signed in blood" were literal, just look at the scars. Later, sticks were used to make impressions on dried mud or clay tablets, pottery, and even building materials like wood.

Historians and anthropologist don't really know when the first pen was invented or by whom, but it is widely believed that ancient indigenous people in various areas fashioned writing instruments out of bamboo sticks and/or bird feathers, based on materials that were readily available to them. They left their mark on wood, animal skin, and even stone. Ancient prose of Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas used this type of writing instrument circa 5000 BCE. In ancient Egypt, pens made out of thin reeds were used to write on papyrus scrolls. In certain regions of Pakistan, reed pens crafted from bamboo are still used by students, who write their lessons on wood planks.

Today, Computers and Smart Phones make communication faster and easier. But when sending a letter of thanks or apology, or a card to Mom, nothing expresses emotion and depth of feeling like "the pen.” I doubt that Mom will keep your text with the smiley face :-), but she will keep that precious “hand-written” card. The Pen is still the most personalized and sincere ways to express yourself and your convictions.

Since pens and writing can convey emotion, it is important to choose the correct color for the writing task. From a search of the internet, we came to the following ink color conclusions :

"Black Ink pens are used in business letters that convey facts, or explanation of facts,  rather than emotion. Black is used for official signatures as well as payment or collection letters."

"Blue Ink pens expressions are less ridged and a little friendlier. Blue ink exudes confidence in oneself and the ability to meet an objective. Blue in appropriate for formal writing and business letters of all kinds." Blue ink is usually acceptable for signatures. However, black ink is preferred."

"Red Ink letters are 'power documents.' Red ink can be used when stating demands or for collection notices. However, Red ink may be viewed as insulting to the reader, and tantamount to a declaration of war. Though red ink guarantees maximum impact, such impact is almost always negative."

"Green Ink conveys the impression that one is goal oriented, and serious about making money. Green conveys a health concern for the environment. I’m just not a “green ink guy”,  but if you want to be different,  green ink may be right for you."

Could it be that people see a correlation between the type of pen a business person uses and the quality of the business product and service? Could it be that bringing a  BIC pen to a sales or board meeting is like taking a rubber band to a gun fight?

Yes, I text and send email. But when I send a sales letter, it is hand-written in blue ink, and very sincere. When I mess up and can't meet a delivery date, after the in-person apology, I always follow up with a hand written blue ink and very sincere letter. And when it comes time to close the deal, I always use my most impressive pen, one that reflects the superior quality of our products and services, one that says this agreement is "written in stone" and "signed in blood, that you can count on this covenant and that my company and I will never fail you. Now that’s impressive. A computer email or Smart Phone test just can't touch that. Only a pen can convey "that important message beyond words."

What does your pen say about you and your business?

Is your Internet fast enough

(Terry Loose Yahoo)If your Internet experience was an animal, would it be a cheetah or a slug? A silly question maybe, but the answer is anything but silly.


That's because in today's globally connected world of computers, video streaming, and social media, the speed of your Internet connection could mean the difference between a mega bright smile and a mega bummer frown.

"If your connection is too slow, you'll have a really frustrating experience," says Phil Dunn, a technology specialist at Synapse Services Co., a web technologies and content development company.

"[Connection speed] is a quality of experience issue," adds Dunn. "The bottleneck with Internet use is that a lot of today's computer programs are relying on the Internet connection to work, such as video streaming with Netflix or YouTube or streaming music, to name just a few."

[Want a faster Internet connection? Click to compare rates from providers now.]

On the flip side, some people might not need the more expensive lightning-fast speeds certain Internet providers offer, according to Dunn.

Keep reading for tips on how to match your Internet speed to your lifestyle speed.

Tip #1: Determine Your Speed Need

When it comes to your Internet connection, your need for speed is a function of what tasks you go online to perform. According to Dunn, the more data rich stuff you do - such as streaming videos and music or playing online games - the faster your connection to the Internet needs to be.

"Let's say you're a family with a TV that's streaming Netflix through an Internet connection, and a few kids who are streaming songs, and you have a slow Internet connection," Dunn says. "You're going to run into problems. Things will stall because the bandwidth just isn't big enough."

So how can you calculate your Internet speed? This can be done over the Internet at certain sites. For example, a June 2012 Consumer Reports Magazine article "Cut your telecom bill" suggests using this website: All you need is your address, and it will tell you your connection speed within a minute or two.

And to help you decide if it's time to upgrade your speed, here are some suggestions based on your amount of online usage, according to the "Cut your telecom bill" article:

Light Usage: You only have two people using the Internet simultaneously, Web surfing, downloading short, standard-definition videos, emailing, and perhaps playing simple Internet games.

Speed Suggested: Up to 3 megabytes per second [Mbps]

Moderate Usage: Occasionally up to three simultaneous users. They are commonly video streaming, with some high definition (HD) content from places such as iTunes. Also, some HD interactive game playing and uploading of high-resolution photos to a cloud storage service, which keeps your data at a remote location to free up your hard drive. You can tolerate the occasional quality compromise.

Speed Suggested: Up to 6 to 12 Mbps

Heavy Usage: You have up to four people online simultaneously, some perhaps using a tablet or smartphone. They are doing content-rich stuff like streaming movies or videos or uploading big files or photos to cloud storage services. Users also might demand high speeds. Professional photographers and videographers could fall into this group.

Speed Suggested: At least 15 Mbps

[Click to compare rates from multiple Internet providers.]

Tip #2: Get the Right Type of Connection

When it comes to connecting to the Internet, you have a lot of options, says Dunn. They range from snail-paced slow (dial up) to fabulously fast (the best cable) and everything in between. Below is a breakdown of some of the many options available, according to Dunn:

Option 1: Dial-up Connection: This option uses a traditional phone line to access the Internet.

Speed: Very slow by today's standards.

Typical Cost: Free to very inexpensive.

Expert's Take: "This is the minimum. Someone on a dial-up modem trying to use Skype or watch videos is going to have a horrible time," says Dunn. In addition, you need a home phone line, which more and more people are replacing with their cell phone.

Option 2: DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): This option also uses a traditional phone line to access the Internet, but it's a bit faster.

Speed: Slow by today's standards.

Typical Cost: Low to moderate.

Expert's Take: "When you go beyond basic email and get into more graphic heavy stuff or videos, you're going to want DSL at least," says Dunn. "But it's still going to be frustrating at times."

Option 3: Cable: This option uses the same cable line as your cable TV. The bigger line offers the opportunity to transfer more data at a time, thus it's much faster.

Speed: Fast to Very Fast. Anywhere from 2 Mbps to 100 Mbps. (See chart in Tip #1)

Typical Cost: Ranges widely, depending on speed and whether you bundle your service with cable TV and home phone, which makes it less expensive.

Expert's Take: "This is typically very fast," says Dunn. "For most families, this is the option that will allow them to do all the things they want to do, from watching movies and streaming music to photo sharing and playing online games."

[Looking to change your Internet speed? Click to compare rates now.]

Tip #3: Use Cafes and Libraries for Web Access

Next time you're at a cafe and order a chai latte with soy, you might think about ordering up a side of Internet access. That's because in today's Internet-fueled world, many businesses give customers Internet access for free - or as a premium when they buy a drink or meal. Public spaces often have this feature as well.

Typically referred to as hotspots, they range from cafes and bookstores to libraries and airports. Conceivably, a consumer who doesn't have good Internet access at home - or doesn't want to pay for it - could supplement their usage by frequenting these places, according to Dunn.

But it's not all whip cream and chocolate cookies; there is a downside.

"They typically don't offer great connections because it's an expense that they have to make up by selling an extra cup of coffee or muffin," says Dunn. "They also have to support all the freeloaders who come in and buy a Coke and hang out for five hours."

This brings up another potential problem: the more people sharing the connection, the slower each of their connections will be, says Dunn. So especially in public places such as libraries and airports, that could really wipe out your Web surfing plan.

Tip #4: Make Sure You're Getting the Speed You're Paying For

Are you paying for cable Internet, but your favorite website is taking more time than usual to load? It may be time for an Internet service upgrade. In other words, time to go shopping.

But first you might want to check to make sure the cable company is delivering the speed they promise, and that your equipment is not to blame.

To start, check that your connection is as fast as you believe it to be. "Performing a speed test to determine your [Internet connection] speed is a good start," says Dunn.

Next, make sure you are connecting your computer to the cable modem (the box that connects your computer to the cable coming into the house) in the best way possible.

"If your computer is connected to the cable modem with a line, your experience is going to be much better than if you're using a router and Wi-Fi [a wireless connection that uses radio waves]," says Dunn.

"Wi-Fi slows things down, depending on what kind you have," adds Dunn. Why? Because it relies on radio waves instead of an uninterrupted copper wire connection.

But if you love to go mobile, routers with Wi-Fi might be essential to your lifestyle. If so, two things to remember about routers and Wi-Fi: update the software often and newer routers will provide faster speeds (look for the term 802.11.n). To update your router, you can check your router instructions or call the manufacturer's tech support.

[Want to change Internet providers? Click to compare rates now.]

Tip #5: Check for Speed Killers

If you've done all you can to ensure a great Internet connection speed, but you still can't seem to stream the latest blockbuster, make sure you haven't fallen victim to a computer virus.

"The big one that's going to kill you with Internet speed is malware or viruses, or Trojan horses," says Dunn. "Those are all under the security category and are really going to cause damage."

These programs are designed to break into your computer and perform things you don't want happening in your circuitry.

But how do you get these viruses? By visiting sites or opening emails from hackers who want to use your computer and connection to perform illegal activity, such as pirating movies or music, says Dunn. Their computer programs [the malware, viruses, and Trojan horses] are loaded onto your computer and perform the illegal tasks.

"So you think your Internet connection is slow, but it's really this third party who is using part of your bandwidth to do their nefarious deeds," says Dunn.

So how do you avoid it? "Virus and malware software, like Microsoft Security Essentials, or Norton, or McAfee, are pretty good at protecting your computer," says Dunn.

But he adds that these anti-virus software programs are not perfect, so keeping your computer healthy is a balance between having those protection tools installed and being careful what sites you visit.

Read More - Click Here!

Jobs that will be replaced by robots is lower than you think

( @ TechRepublic) Few trends in technology have caused the level of panic and uncertainty in the job market as artificial intelligence (AI). The impending "robot revolution" has brought questions about what jobs, if any, will be replaced by bots, and when it will happen.

While some have posited that robots will replace nearly all jobs, and free up humans to work on more creative endeavors, others have been more reserved in their predictions. A new report for Forrester Research claims that, by 2021, "intelligent agents and related robots" will only have eliminated 6% of jobs.

"By 2021, AI within intelligent agents will evolve significantly beyond today's relatively simple machine learning and natural language processing (NLP)," the report said. "Emerging applications will feature improved self-learning and more complex scenarios. As basic agents gain consumer adoption, next-generation AI will not power intelligent agents until 2020 or beyond."

However, that doesn't mean that AI won't affect jobs in the short term. According to the report, the maturation of these intelligent agents will replace many daily tasks associated with certain positions.

Technologies such as chatbots, digital assistants, robotic process automation, and cognitive computing will lead the charge. The main disruptive potential of these technologies is in customer service, logistics, taxi and truck driving, and the automotive industry, the report said.

The year 2021 will see AI and similar technologies affect marketing as well. Being able to add context and offer suggestions will continue to transform how customers interact with brands.

"Broad business impact will happen as AI matures and customer analytics and marketing vendors improve their insight platform offerings," the report said.

Despite the low number of eliminated jobs by 

2021, that is only the beginning of how these technologies will affect work. The Forrester report noted that 2021 is that year that a "disruptive tidal wave will begin," and industries will be more deeply affected.

"Solutions powered by AI/cognitive technology will displace jobs, with the biggest impact felt in transportation, logistics, customer service, and consumer services," the report said. "Early movers who have amassed large data sets will have created a baseline set of AI/cognitive services. Other disruptors will begin to use these services to scale their businesses and steal customers from competitors."

AI and robots will provide a significant competitive edge to businesses, especially after 2021. However, it is important to prepare for the increased competition by investing in these technologies now.

The 3 big takeaways

  1. A new Forrester report claims that only 6% of jobs will be lost to AI and robots by the year 2021.
  2. The automotive industry, customer service, taxi and truck driving, and marketing will be the first to be affected by these trends.
  3. After 2021, a "disruptive tidal wave" will occur that will see even greater displacement of certain jobs by these new technologies



KHCONF is a service provided by Generic Conferencing LLC, a Missouri Limited Liability Company. The KHCONF service is designed to assist congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses around the world to tie in elderly and infirm members to meetings via telephone. Service is currently available in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland and Puerto Rico, and plans are being made to provide service in additional countries.
Generic Conferencing uses Voice over IP technology and open source software to create a simple, reliable and functional service with high quality sound and a very low cost.

How it works:       The KHCONF service is a simple conference bridge application. You call into the system from the meeting location, and the homebound friends call into the system from home, using a preassigned PIN.

In the majority of the US, Generic Conferencing can provide a local phone number, so there is no charge to the friends who call in. In European countries, the number provided is a geographic number so that the cost to the friends is as low as possible.

The system provides the congregation with the ability to retrieve a count of the number of listeners, the ability to select a listen-only mode or commenting mode (if the sound system supports that) on a per caller basis, and on line reporting tools so you can keep track of who is calling in.

Support Options:   Subscribing congregations are provided with an emergency hotline number to call if the conference service is not working. Questions or problem that are not related to an emergency or system down problem are handled via email.

Callers to the emergency hotline are prompted to leave a message, and this pages a technician who will attempt to respond immediately.


How many callers can be tied in at once?   This is dependent on your location and the subscription options. In the US, Tier 1 Local Number customers can have up to 20 per congregation tied in. In Tier 2 areas, up to 10 listeners are included in the monthly cost. Additional listeners can be added for an additional charge. In the UK and Ireland, up to 8 listeners are included in the basic service, and for an additional charge that can be increased to 18 listeners.

How do we pay for the service?   Invoices are e-mailed once service is setup. E-mail invoices are used to keep the cost of the service as low as possible. In the US, these invoices are sent monthly to new subscribers, and in the rest of the world the subscription is an annual subscription. Congregations may pay electronically or via check. More information is provided once the subscription is setup.

How can I find out if you have local numbers in my area?   Choose your country in the "Order Service" box on the left. All US numbers are loaded into our system. In the UK and Ireland, please E-mail us at Include the address and phone number of your primary meeting place in your e-mails.
Some members of our congregation have to make a long distance call to reach the meeting location, does that make a difference?   Yes, it does. There are several ways to handle this. In many instances we are able to provision two local numbers and tie both together, so that everyone can call a number that is local to them. Please email us at with as much information as you can and we'll look at the situation and make a recommendation.

The website says you have no local numbers in my area of the US. When will that change?   Generic Conferencing has no direct control over the coverage areas, we just work with suppliers who provide those services. We are constantly working to find additional suppliers to expand the local number coverage area. However, in the US, there are areas that are very expensive to serve. In these areas, the lowest cost option is a toll free number, charged at a 2 cents per minute per caller rate.

Can we just get an unlimited long distance package and use the local number service even though there is no local number in our area?   Generally speaking, this is a bad idea. For more information about why, please click here.

How long does it take to setup new services?   This depends on your location. It can be as few as two weeks, and as many as eight weeks.

What equipment do we need to buy?   Most congregations already have the equipment that is needed. You simply need a device (like a Hanstech box) that connects your sound system to a phone line. We recommend you talk to your RBC Sound Department, or email us for a contact at a company that sells these devices.

Contacting KHConf:

By E-Mail:

By Telephone: (214) 329-1847
Note: Due to the overwhelming response to this service, we are not able to return telephone inquiries. Please email with any questions or inquiries.

By Mail: P.O. Box 687, Crowley, TX 76036 USA

Keep Your Cell Phone From Blowing Up

Don’t Want Your Phone to Blow Up? Follow These 6 Pieces of Expert Advice

(Andrée-Noëlle Pot/Le Matin @ Huffington Post) We recently covered the story of a young Texas girl’s Samsung Galaxy smartphone incinerating near her head as she slept. Her phone was ruined, but the fire didn’t spread beyond the underside of her pillow, so she and her family were not harmed.

Of course, not all chargeable electronics fires end without injury (see:this smartphone battery that exploded in a Florida gym, causing facial burns to one woman).

Obviously, these are extraordinary circumstances. Your smartphone isn’t just going to up and explode on you in 99 percent of scenarios.

Still, we were curious as to what you, dear reader, could do to prevent similar smartphone combustion. And so we talked to the device experts at iFix, a New York-based gadget repair service.

Here’s the advice iFix gave to avoid battery meltdown and smartphone explosion:

1. Stay away from low-quality batteries.
One of the potential issues pointed out with the Samsung Galaxy S4 that caught fire in Texas was that the phone’s battery was swapped for an aftermarket model. The iFix crew says low-grade smartphone batteries can be a bad idea because, in terms of quality and care in construction, “they do not follow the same standards as original manufacturers.”

When replacing your phone’s battery, you’ll probably want to skip the cheapest option on eBay or Amazon and instead seek out the same one with which your Samsung, HTC, or LG phone came (from what is often referred to as the “OEM,” or original equipment manufacturer).

If you must go with a third-party replacement battery, iFix considersAnker a trusted brand.

2. Keep your phone in a well-ventilated place while charging.
The second no-no with the Texas case: The charging phone was under a pillow.

Phone tucked under a pillow


Our experts’ advice: “Do not cover a charging phone with a pillow.”

For obvious reasons, this isn’t good for the goal of keeping your phone from overheating. A rule of thumb would be to place a charging phone in an area away from insulating fabrics or other heat-emitting electronics (maybe not on top of a cable box, for example).

3. If you get your phone wet, have it checked by a professional.
We all know it’s possible to bring a soggy smartphone back to a working condition, but the iFix team says that, despite your rescue attempts, corrosion or short circuiting can still occur inside the phone, undetectable to the naked eye. These conditions could lead to dangerous overheating of the device.

iPhone in a bag of rice


The solution: Most repair services like iFix offer diagnostics services (sometimes for free) that can detect these types of problems for you. Of course, don’t expect the actual repair of corroded parts or shorted circuits to be free. Still better than waiting for an accident to happen, we say.

4. Don’t overuse your phone while it’s charging.
Juicing up draws a great amount of heat to your phone, making it plenty hotter than it is during normal use. Because of this, our iFix experts say that hardware-heavy activities like graphic-intensive games, WiFi tethering, or even searching for service in a low-signal area — processes that will also warm your phone up — shouldn’t be done while your device is plugged in.

Overusing the phone while charging “can create additional stress on the device and the charger,” iFix says.

A good rule of thumb: If you are Crushing some Candy while your phone is charging, and you feel the back get toasty, put the thing down. And not under your pillow, either. 

5. If your phone takes a nasty drop, don’t just dust it off and move on.
Similar to the “wet phone” scenario, you shouldn’t just assume that your phone is A-OK because it still powers on after an unfriendly meeting with the concrete.

Cracked Samsung phone


Some possible problems caused by a nasty drop: a small crack in an internal component, a damaged or split battery, or exposed internals via a cracked display.

Having your phone taken apart by a specialist after it’s suffered some trauma is going to be the best way to go. And as smartphone screen repair by third-party services gets cheaper and cheaper, the option is now both safe and budget-friendly.

Oh, and also, you won’t be constantly made fun of by your friends.

6. If you notice any overheating or sudden battery drain, you may have a problem.
iFix also filled us in on a problem that’s becoming more common among its customers. Phone owners are contacting its service and complaining that phones “suddenly start overheating. No water damage. No dropping.”

In the recent case of a year-old iPhone 4s, the phone suddenly began heating up and losing “a couple percent [charge] every minute.”

Since the phone was not covered under AppleCare, the team assessed the possible problems and eventually decided to resolder parts of the phone’s main chip board and install a new battery.

“So far it works just fine. We don’t quite know what the problem was, maybe a micro-crack on the board or chip, a loose connection, or a defective battery,” iFix said.

Much the way you want a good mechanic for your car, it’s not a bad idea to have a good phone repair shop in your Rolodex for when problems like the above surface. No one is fond of the thought of forking over hard-earned money for “smartphone maintenance.” But the alternative may be too hot to handle.

Keep Your Cell Phone From Blowing Up

Don’t Want Your Phone to Blow Up? Follow These 6 Pieces of Expert Advice

(Andrée-Noëlle Pot/Le Matin @ Huffington Post) We recently covered the story of a young Texas girl’s Samsung Galaxy smartphone incinerating near her head as she slept. Her phone was ruined, but the fire didn’t spread beyond the underside of her pillow, so she and her family were not harmed.

Of course, not all chargeable electronics fires end without injury (see:this smartphone battery that exploded in a Florida gym, causing facial burns to one woman).

Obviously, these are extraordinary circumstances. Your smartphone isn’t just going to up and explode on you in 99 percent of scenarios.

Still, we were curious as to what you, dear reader, could do to prevent similar smartphone combustion. And so we talked to the device experts at iFix, a New York-based gadget repair service.

Here’s the advice iFix gave to avoid battery meltdown and smartphone explosion:

1. Stay away from low-quality batteries.
One of the potential issues pointed out with the Samsung Galaxy S4 that caught fire in Texas was that the phone’s battery was swapped for an aftermarket model. The iFix crew says low-grade smartphone batteries can be a bad idea because, in terms of quality and care in construction, “they do not follow the same standards as original manufacturers.”

When replacing your phone’s battery, you’ll probably want to skip the cheapest option on eBay or Amazon and instead seek out the same one with which your Samsung, HTC, or LG phone came (from what is often referred to as the “OEM,” or original equipment manufacturer).

If you must go with a third-party replacement battery, iFix considersAnker a trusted brand.

2. Keep your phone in a well-ventilated place while charging.
The second no-no with the Texas case: The charging phone was under a pillow.

Phone tucked under a pillow


Our experts’ advice: “Do not cover a charging phone with a pillow.”

For obvious reasons, this isn’t good for the goal of keeping your phone from overheating. A rule of thumb would be to place a charging phone in an area away from insulating fabrics or other heat-emitting electronics (maybe not on top of a cable box, for example).

3. If you get your phone wet, have it checked by a professional.
We all know it’s possible to bring a soggy smartphone back to a working condition, but the iFix team says that, despite your rescue attempts, corrosion or short circuiting can still occur inside the phone, undetectable to the naked eye. These conditions could lead to dangerous overheating of the device.

iPhone in a bag of rice


The solution: Most repair services like iFix offer diagnostics services (sometimes for free) that can detect these types of problems for you. Of course, don’t expect the actual repair of corroded parts or shorted circuits to be free. Still better than waiting for an accident to happen, we say.

4. Don’t overuse your phone while it’s charging.
Juicing up draws a great amount of heat to your phone, making it plenty hotter than it is during normal use. Because of this, our iFix experts say that hardware-heavy activities like graphic-intensive games, WiFi tethering, or even searching for service in a low-signal area — processes that will also warm your phone up — shouldn’t be done while your device is plugged in.

Overusing the phone while charging “can create additional stress on the device and the charger,” iFix says.

A good rule of thumb: If you are Crushing some Candy while your phone is charging, and you feel the back get toasty, put the thing down. And not under your pillow, either. 

5. If your phone takes a nasty drop, don’t just dust it off and move on.
Similar to the “wet phone” scenario, you shouldn’t just assume that your phone is A-OK because it still powers on after an unfriendly meeting with the concrete.

Cracked Samsung phone


Some possible problems caused by a nasty drop: a small crack in an internal component, a damaged or split battery, or exposed internals via a cracked display.

Having your phone taken apart by a specialist after it’s suffered some trauma is going to be the best way to go. And as smartphone screen repair by third-party services gets cheaper and cheaper, the option is now both safe and budget-friendly.

Oh, and also, you won’t be constantly made fun of by your friends.

6. If you notice any overheating or sudden battery drain, you may have a problem.
iFix also filled us in on a problem that’s becoming more common among its customers. Phone owners are contacting its service and complaining that phones “suddenly start overheating. No water damage. No dropping.”

In the recent case of a year-old iPhone 4s, the phone suddenly began heating up and losing “a couple percent [charge] every minute.”

Since the phone was not covered under AppleCare, the team assessed the possible problems and eventually decided to resolder parts of the phone’s main chip board and install a new battery.

“So far it works just fine. We don’t quite know what the problem was, maybe a micro-crack on the board or chip, a loose connection, or a defective battery,” iFix said.

Much the way you want a good mechanic for your car, it’s not a bad idea to have a good phone repair shop in your Rolodex for when problems like the above surface. No one is fond of the thought of forking over hard-earned money for “smartphone maintenance.” But the alternative may be too hot to handle.

Layoffs Send People and Knowledge Packing by Jason Rothbart

The scale of layoffs over the past few weeks is unprecedented. The impact on these people who have been shown the door and on the companies that have let them go will linger for years to come. Besides the emotional damage that occurs when people are forced out, there is a tangible cost to companies when knowledge and experience walk out the door. Once that knowledge and experience are gone, no amount of TARP money will bring them back. It may be too late for some companies to prevent this now, but putting measures in place will lessen the blow in future.

One of the few ways to address the problem is to adopt collaborative tools and processes that capture the information companies need to be able to thrive.

Every company in the world relies on the bits of information that live in its employees' heads. The accounts payable clerk may know a small nugget on how to negotiate the best price with an important vendor. A salesperson may repeat the same pitch when selling to a certain kind of customer that works every time. An engineer may be the only person who knows why software was originally built with ColdFusion. The branch manager may know the precise spot to kick the box compactor when it acts up.

All of these bits of knowledge add up to a vast amount of information that a healthy business requires. But the vast majority of companies do a poor job of gathering this information in a systematic way. When people leave, either by choice or not, what inevitably happens is that the company and its future employees are forced to relearn it all through trial and error. The cycle repeats over and over again. The scale of this problem is huge in the current environment.

So, what does a company do to address the problem?

1. Use tools and process. Companies must have infrastructure in place to encourage, or force, employees to share information. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it is at least marginally effective. Anything is better than nothing. How many managers around the world are at this moment digging through abandoned email folders trying to figure what their employees were working on and what they knew.

2. Measure collaboration. Again, it doesn't matter how, just do something that you think has a good chance of success. You could measure the number of contributions to a knowledge base, the frequency of mentoring sessions, the number of white papers written, whatever. What you measure is less important than doing it consistently over time and measuring improvement. Of course, the metrics are not irrelevant, but don't wait to choose the perfect ones to track. Start small and simply, and go from there.

3. Reward employees for sharing. If you don't measure and reward productive behavior, it isn't going to happen. Collaboration is a bit fuzzy and can't be measured like the number of phone calls answered per hour, but there are ways.

4. Focus on informal information. This is often where the best information resides. For example, many employees send emails back and forth answering questions and trading best practices. You need a way to harvest these nuggets of information.

None of this stuff is rocket science, but few companies nail this process. We recently spoke with David Coleman of Collaborative Strategies, who said only 10% of his clients focus on \"back-end\" collaboration. The majority have invested in front-end collaboration technology, like web conferencing, to save money and reduce travel. This is also important but doesn't help companies retain information when people leave. The current economic conditions put even more pressure on companies to wring as much information as possible from remaining and future employees. The important thing now, if you are a business owner or manager, is to do something before it is too late again.

Learn Something For Free

Instructables: Learn how to DIY just about anything (seriously!) with instructions from hundreds of contributors offered up free of charge. DIY solar food dehydrator, anyone? School: Hidden among the hacks on this uber-useful site are posted tagged “night school” where you’ll find freebie lessons on everything from how to build a computer to photography basics.

Skillshare: Find out how to brew a perfect cup of coffee, pickle like a pro, knit, sew, and 100s of more skills. Cram your head full with the site’s complimentary 14-day trial, stat!

JustinGuitar: Always dreamed of becoming a rock star? You won’t even have to busk to take advantage of this site’s 850+ gratis guitar lessons.

Drawspace: Sharpen your drawing skills with lessons from pros. About 15% of Drawspace’s content is on the house.

Chesscademy: Become a chess master by watching videos, solving puzzles,  and playing games, all free of cost. Sign up for unpaid bite-size courses delivered to your inbox daily, aimed at expanding your knowledge on topics ranging from philosophy to Greek mythology.

Spreeder: Quick: How fast can you read these words? Use this Spreeder’s completely free reading program to double, triple, even quadruple your reading speed.

DuoLingo: Learn a new language from this site’s extensive costless online courses. Bonus: The ‘lessons’ are set up like games!

Codecademy: Get yourself up to speed on the in-demand skill of coding—all without spending a dime

Linkedin Contact Advice from by Ron Harvey

Networking is the major purpose for having a LinkedIn profile...Agreed? In the past week I have been making many connections, but I was surprised at how many did not have contact information readily available.

Aside from making your email address and phone number clearly visible on your profile page, there is another way I just found to make sure someone can contact you or invite your connection.