Category Archives: Uncategorized

Are Computer Tablets Worth it?

Computer tablets have become tremendously popular since the introduction of Apple’s iPad in 2010. Competitors have released their own versions and, almost overnight, a new technological commodity has become a competing force in the business world. Though that’s not to say that tablets are perfect for any business setting. We could very well look at the iPad a decade from now in the same way we currently view tape decks. When determining whether or not to purchase a tablet, it’s best to be educated. Consider these pros and cons before you make this expensive purchase. 

Pros: 

  • Tablets are extremely portable devices. Being able to remotely connect with your work is becoming a necessity as businesses becomes more integrated with cloud computing. As a rule of thumb, the more accessible you are, the better. 
  • Tablets are very practical tools. As developers continue to design new business apps that improve over time, there will be a growing amount of potential work uses for tablets. 
  • Tablets express capability. In a business setting, having and using a tablet can communicate to your clients a feeling of professionalism. If you use your tablet to enhance your work productivity, you will appear more capable. 

Cons: 

  • Tablets haven’t reinvented the wheel. Most of the functions performed by a tablet can be performed on a laptop or desktop computer. Yes, tablets may be more convenient, but does that make them absolutely necessary? 
  • Tablets can be very distracting. Because tablets are crossover devices between business and consumer, they have the potential to become overpriced toys. Presently, there are far more leisure-related apps than there are work-related apps.  
  • Tablets are a new technology. Though this makes them exciting and cutting edge, it also makes them expensive and sometimes faulty. Developers often release these items before they are perfected, and it might be a few years down the road until a fully reliable tablet is released at a reasonable cost. 

Tablets are effective tools that strike a balance between practicality and luxury. Considering the pros and cons will help you decide the value a tablet can offer. If you’d like to learn any more information, please take a look at this article.

A deeper look into NFC mobile chips

The way we pay for things appears to keep getting easier and easier. The trend is continuing with NFC, or Near Field Communication, mobile chips. NFC technology permits you to wirelessly transmit data from one gadget to another at close ranges.

How will we use it?

This technology is mainly going to be integrated into smartphones. Phones are one of the things that we often carry around with us at all times. In fact, many of us have them in our hands while we’re ordering coffee or paying for groceries.

Integrating NFC chips into smartphone designs allows users to store their credit card information in their phones. That way, when they’re at a business that is outfitted with the technology, they can simply scan their phones at the register.

Google Wallet

Google just announced its foray into the mobile payments world. Google Wallet, which hopes to take the place of the traditional wallet, is available on certain Android devices, but Google plans to release a sticker that will allow other devices to work with the Google Wallet. A number of retailers have already signed on to work with Google Wallet.

Apple, which is rumored to be working on a mobile payment system as well, will likely not willingly open up their devices to the Google Wallet technology. Instead, they will most likely be releasing their own NFC systems quite soon.

Other potential uses

NFC mobile chips will likely soon be doing much more than just helping you pay for your coffee. Some of those future uses include:

  • Replace passports and boarding passes
  • Products might contain RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags on them that you can scan in order to gather information.
  • Pet tags may soon have RFID tags attached that you can scan if you find a lost puppy.
  • Replace keys – no more clunky key chains!

NFC mobile chips are guaranteed to transform the way we do many things. While the transition may take a while, it is sure to make our lives a little easier.

For more information on NFC mobile chips and how they work, take a look at this article.

Creating a workflow chart

You may not realize how many processes you have memorized for your everyday routine and there are probably a lot. Those processes generally include a lot of intricate steps, which can make explaining or recreating that process challenging at times. Luckily, workflow charts are here to make it easier.

What are they?

Flowcharts are diagrams that show certain processes and the steps and decisions within that process. Steps and decisions are represented by squares and diamonds, respectively, and are connected by arrows to show the order of the steps. For an example of a flowchart, take a look at this article.

Pros

  • Very straightforward way of conveying a process as the symbols are generally universally understood
  • Once it has been made, the process will often take less time than before
  • Helps users understand how each step impacts an entire process

Cons

  • Can be difficult to create, especially when the processes are more complicated
  • If you don’t have the proper software, this can be a very long process

How to create one

Creating a workflow chart is less complicated than it may seem. It can be rather simple when done on the computer, thanks to software designed especially for that purpose. If you are using computer software to build your flowchart, it is always best to outline it first so as to prevent the chart from getting too messy.

Start by thinking about the starting point of a process and the ending point, and all of the different steps it takes to get there. Some steps will allow for alternative courses of action. In those cases, you should show the different choices by using multiple arrows. To see what different flowchart icons mean, take a look at this eHow article.

Workflow charts are a great way to help break down a process and better understand all of the steps that go into it.

If you would like more information on how to create a workflow chart, check out this eHow article.

Tech terms you should know

For most us, technology is fairly prevalent in our everyday lives. Unfortunately, we often are uncertain about what the terms associated with technology actually mean. This mini glossary of tech terms can help you to understand some of the most common terms.

Cookies

Cookies are what allow websites to know who you are. If you allow cookies, your web browser will automatically provide your information such as username, password or preferences. They are useful because they save you from having to reenter your information every single time you visit a website.

Unfortunately, cookies can also be seen as a privacy issue. Since they store your information and track your activity they make it easier for someone to access your data. Most experts agree, however, that merely limiting the amount of cookies you allow will help protect your online identity.

URL

A URL, or uniform resource locator, is simply a web address. It is what you type into the address bar of your browser, usually beginning with “http,” that brings you to the website you wish to visit.

Cloud

The cloud is one of the most discussed tech terms today. It is talked about on television and in blogs and newspaper articles. The cloud is made up of services that are based on the Internet and do not require you to install hardware or software on your computer.

Flash

Flash is an Adobe-owned platform that enables you to view certain things on your computer. Many people install Flash players or plug-ins so that they can watch videos or animation or see dynamic displays on websites. Although Flash has been the longtime leader in its field, HTML5 is quickly catching up with it.

Technology-related terms may seem overwhelming but understanding the basics can make it all much easier to grasp.

For more tech terms and their meanings, check out this glossary.

A guide to 5 popular social media terms

Social media is something that is present in most of our lives, whether we like it or not. Unfortunately, many of us still have no clue what most of the terms associated with social media mean. This simple guide can reduce some of that uncertainty by explaining some of the more common social media terms.

1. Tag

A tag can pertain to a number of things, depending on how it is used. When referring to blogs, tags usually refer to the keywords that were used in the post. Tagging keywords in blogs allows search engines to recognize your post as pertaining to certain topics, and helps the post rank higher.

Tag can also refer to the action of tagging people in pictures or posts. When Facebook photo tagging first launched, it let you tag your friends in pictures. Now it includes facial recognition, and you can even tag Brand/Product Pages in your photos.

The latest form of tagging actually refers to mentioning friends in your posts and status updates. Now, if you tag them in your updates, they will be notified of your post and it will show up on their wall for all of their other friends to see.

2. Troll

A troll in this situation is a person that uses social media as a way to provoke people. Trolls often make taunting or offensive comments on pages or in groups in order to provoke anger.

3. Friend

We all know what a friend is in the traditional sense, but in social media it can be used as a verb. When you add a person as a friend over a social network, many users refer to this as “friending” someone.

4. Stream

Stream, like tag, can have several different meanings. When it’s used as a verb it refers to a constant streaming of information, like a webcast. In the form of a noun it generally refers to the information and updates that show up on someone’s Twitter or Facebook home page.

5. At mention

An at mention, or @ mention, works on Twitter a lot like status tags work on Facebook. You can mention someone in your Tweet, precede his or her name with the @ symbol and they will be alerted to your post. This also allows the post to show up in his or her home page.

Although social media terms can often be confusing, this guide can surely help clear up some of the confusion. If you’d like even more social media definitions, take a look at this article.

How to recognize and avoid employee burnout

Many of us have experienced employee burnout in one way or another – whether we have felt burned out ourselves or seen it in one of our peers. Thankfully, there are a number of simple steps you can take to ensure that burnout doesn’t get the best of you or your employees.

Preventing burnout

    • Have fun – Making room for fun can reduce some stress and help to keep employees inspired when they are on the brink of burnout.

 

  • Switch it up – Let employees focus on new projects or teams when they’ve been working on one thing for a long time, like Facebook is doing with Hackamonth.

 

 

  • Encourage breaks – It’s wonderful to have employees that don’t want to quit working until they get things done. Sadly, those are the people that are bound to burn out quickest. If you have employees like this, encourage them to take walks or go on a coffee run – anything to keep them from going stir crazy.

 

For those times when burnout can’t be avoided, there are several things you can do to help make sure that your employees don’t become fed up.

 

How to cope with burnout

    • Accept it – Burnout isn’t always preventable so it’s important to be aware of the signs such as lethargy, decreased socializing or irritability.

 

  • Communicate – Growing businesses often undergo changes that leave employees frustrated. Making sure your employees know that they can talk to you is an excellent way to stop burnout before it gets out of control.

 

 

While you may not always be able to avoid employee burnout, these suggestions can help ensure that it doesn’t overwhelm anyone or negatively affect your business or employees.

For more burnout-fighting tips, take a look at this article.

3 tips for more effective online searches

Often, when we perform online searches we end up finding hundreds of thousands of results – many of them irrelevant. Thankfully, there are a number of simple steps you can take to help generate more accurate results.

Keep it simple

Use the fewest number of words or phrases you can. If you’re searching for Chinese takeout in your area, type in “Chinese food” as well as the name of your city or your zip code. That should garner accurate results even if you aren’t sure precisely what you’re looking for.

Learn about Boolean

Boolean searches are something many of us are familiar with, whether we realize it or not. Essentially, Boolean searches center around using the terms “and,” “not” and “or” in your searches. It lets you include or exclude a number of words and phrases from your search results.

You can also have the same effect by using simple pluses and minuses in your searches. If you want to include a term in your search simply put a “ ” right before it in the search box. If you want to ensure that a certain term does not pop up in your results, place a “-“ before that word or phrase.

Be precise

When you’re performing a search, it’s best to be as specific as possible. If you know what it is that you’re looking for, use exact phrases instead of just keywords. When you use broad phrases, they can often be misunderstood by the search engine and leave you with results you don’t need.

Using quotation marks is a good way to ensure better search results. Most search engines recognize that as a request for an exact phrase search. So, if you’re looking for a company and know the exact name, it may be in your best interest to search for it in quotes.

These three strategies can greatly impact the accuracy of your search results. You’ll spend less time sifting through website descriptions and pages of results, and more time getting the information you need.

For even more tips on performing online searches, take a look at this article.

Boost productivity with these 3 office tweaks

Regardless of where you work or what you do, you know how easy it is to get off task every once in a while. While there is no way to totally eliminate distractions, there are several small things you can do to improve productivity overall.

Keep a clean office

Clutter and disorganization can easily distract people from the things they should be focusing on. Cleaning the office and encouraging your employees to keep their workspaces clean can quickly get rid of one of the biggest distractions out there.

Increase the temperature

A few degrees can make a big difference in productivity. In fact, in one study, increasing the temperature from 68 to 77 degrees decreased typos by 44% and increased typing output by 150% – those figures are nothing to sneeze at. Even though your heating bill will increase, it might be worth the expense.

Lighten up

In one study, a brighter office was shown to help employees be more productive. Daylight, specifically, makes the biggest difference in productivity. People who work in offices with windows are likely to spend 15% more time staying on task than those without windows.

Not only does this change help to improve productivity, it also can help you save money on your electricity bill by lighting up the office naturally. Because it’s so easy to do, it’s definitely in your best interest to open blinds and move employees into offices with windows whenever possible.

These office tweaks are all quite basic and can make quite a big difference when it comes to employee productivity. There is truly no reason not to try them out, as they each require minimal effort on your part.

For a few more simple tips on boosting productivity, take a look at this article.

5 gifts that are perfect for the techie mom

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and many of us are still clueless as to what to get. If you’re one of those people, you’re in luck. We have five tech-inspired gift ideas that are sure to please any mom.

Digital picture frame

If your mom is like most, she almost certainly loves reliving family memories through old photos. With a digital picture frame, your mom can relive those memories whenever she wants. If she needs help, you can help her by pre-loading all of her pictures onto the frame and she can start enjoying it right away.

Tech time

Many of our moms love technology but are entirely clueless when it comes to using it. If that’s the case in your family, a coupon for some tech TLC may be the perfect gift. You can fix or set up gadgets for your mom, or show her how to use them so she becomes more tech-confident.

Digital magazine or Netflix subscription

Chances are, your mom has either a magazine or a TV show that she’s hooked on. Getting her a subscription to a digital magazine will give Mom the chance to read the magazine she adores without all the clutter.

A Netflix subscription gives your mom the chance to catch up on her favorite TV show. If she’s more of the movie type, she can watch that movie her friends have been talking about for months. Either way, this gift is guaranteed to be a hit.

Tablet

A tablet, such as the iPad or Xoom, is great for Mom due to its portability and ease of use. Once your mom becomes accustomed to it, she should have no problem enjoying all of the games and apps it has to offer.

If the iPad is a little too pricey for you consider getting her the Nook Color. It still performs many of the functions that tablets can perform and is more affordable. Your mom is bound to love either one.

Quality time

Most moms feel like they don’t get to see their kids enough. If this is the case in your family, try giving your mom a coupon for video chat sessions with you and your family. This will undoubtedly be a standout gift.

We all know our moms will appreciate whatever gift we get for them. These gifts, however, will show you care and you put thought into it. Try surprising your mom this year with a great gift that she can really use.

For even more Mother’s Day gift ideas, take a look at this Unplggd article.

Check out Prezi – the online presentation tool

If you’re big on presentations, you might have heard of Prezi, one of the most revered online presentation tools. Prezi is an easy-to-use application that makes presentations more fun. You might ask yourself what makes Prezi better than other presentation apps – here it is:

Flash-based

Prezi is a flash-based tool, which makes it easier to produce non-linear presentations. Most presentation tools require you to go slide-by-slide and don’t leave much room for creativity aside from clipart. With Prezi, your presentation is more like a thought map than anything else, which makes it flow much more naturally.

You are able to zoom in and out of the images and words as you travel from point-to-point. This feature eliminates the need for identical slides and backtracking when you need to reference a past slide.

Intuitive

Once you have become accustomed to Prezi’s interface, it is really quite intuitive. Because many people are non-linear thinkers, the thought-map method, where you can see everything at once, can be incredibly useful.

If you find yourself having trouble getting accustomed to Prezi’s interface, simply take a look at one of their tutorials.

Prezi is web-based but it permits you to download your presentations once they have been created so you don’t need Internet access to actually present. There is a free model available, but for $59/year you can purchase Prezi for more storage and better privacy.

Everybody may not be looking to move away from the linear model of PowerPoint and tools like it. If you are, however, Prezi is a great alternative.