Category Archives: Uncategorized

The secret to finding your ideal desk height

Choosing a suitable desk can be essential to your everyday comfort. Despite its importance, a lot of people overlook one of the key factors when picking out a desk: desk height.

Utilizing office furniture that’s ergonomically correct can prevent you from experiencing long-term strain on your body. People often find that it makes them more productive because of the added comfort.

In order to ensure a desk is the right height for you, you should:

  • Sit down in the position you’d be in while using the desk
  • Rest your arms at your sides
  • Bend your elbow at a 90 degree angle keeping your upper arms in line with your torso

If the desk is a good height for you, your hands should rest comfortable on its surface. For minor adjustments, think about using an adjustable chair or a desk with a pullout keyboard drawer. 

Finding a desk with the proper height is a simple way to save you a lot of discomfort and potential back problems. That alone can make the time and effort well worth it.

For more information on finding the proper desk height, check out this Lifehacker article.

Good practices that help preserve your smartphone battery

For many of us, our smartphone is our main connection to the outside world. So, when that smartphone is out of commission due to a dead battery or something worse, we often feel totally lost. Fortunately, there are a number of easy tricks that may help preserve your phone’s battery life for both the short and long-term.

 

Disable 3G or 4G

3G and 4G capabilities allow your phone to regularly “talk” to the Internet, which can use a great deal of battery power. Try turning it off unless you’re in need of the speed it offers.

 

Adjust the brightness of your screen

If your screen is too bright, it can burn battery quite fast. Take it down a few notches for a simple way to minimize excessive battery drain.

Disable push notifications

If you have push notifications for email and other applications enabled on your phone, it is regularly sending out signals to ask for data. Disabling this setting can save a lot of battery power.

Know when to charge your battery

Find out what type of battery your phone uses. Lithium ion batteries can be charged anytime without affecting the long-term battery life. Nickel-based batteries, however, lose their power over time if you charge them too much, so make sure they’re completely drained first.

 

These are a few easy tips that can greatly improve battery life and keep you from having to live without your phone. For more tips and tricks, check out this Business Insider article.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is a phrase that perplexes most people. It seems like a simple enough concept, but different sources provide different definitions, leaving many of us confused as to what it really is.

What it is:

Cloud computing is a broad term that incorporates Hardware as a Service (Haas), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Within those services, businesses can offer versatile and scalable monthly programs for:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Anti-spam
  • Storage servers

Most providers concur that cloud computing always offers three things:

  1. On-demand services with monthly or set pricing.
  2. Flexibility to scale services as necessary.
  3. The consumer simply needs a computer and Internet access to use the service or program.

The complexity of cloud computing can scare people away, but it is a tool that always uses the power of the Internet to provide products and services to consumers. If you’d like more information on cloud computing, you should check out this InfoWorld article.

6 tips for creating more effective PowerPoint presentations

Microsoft PowerPoint is a popular presentation resource in both the academic and business worlds. But when most of us are tasked with creating a presentation on our own, we discover we don’t know how to properly use PowerPoint to create a strong, memorable presentation.

Most professional presenters that utilize PowerPoint are in agreement that the most essential thing to remember when making a presentation is not to overwhelm your audience. Slides flooded with information often confuse and bore, not engage, your audience.  And even worse, text heavy slides are usually read by the audience, and in the process, the speaker is ignored.

With this in mind, here are 6 things to think about next time you are building a PowerPoint presentation:

  1. If your presentation centers on a narrative, stick to a small number of slides that contain powerful supporting images, text and statistics. Use the slides to make a point, not steal the show.
  2. If you are presenting how-to’s or other instructional information, don’t be afraid to create dozens of slides that individually highlight only a single key idea or concept.
  3. When presenting a process or structured data use bullet points, not sentences or paragraphs. This helps the viewers’ eyes move down the slide and catch each item.
  4. If you can avoid it, don’t use Clip Art, animations or fancy slide transitions. When it comes down to it, they distract from your presentation and reduce the effectiveness of your message. 
  5. Focus on branding your business by keeping your logo on every page and keeping your presentation consistent with your color palette.
  6. Practice first! It’s often quite obvious to an audience if you haven’t practiced your presentation using your slides before getting on stage. Avoid the embarrassment and get your timing and speech dialed in before you present.

By following these tips, you may be on your way to more effective presentations for your business.

For more professional tips and tricks for using PowerPoint make sure you check out this Inc. article.

These 3 applications make creating expense reports a breeze

If you do a lot of travelling for work or simply have a lot of work-related expenses, you know how much of a hassle it can be to record receipts. Well, you’re in luck. There are now plenty of mobile apps that can do just that.

iReceipt

iReceipt is more basic than these other applications and includes an easy-to-navigate interface. You can take pictures of receipts or manually enter data. The application then sends you an expense report via text message.

Shoeboxed Receipt Tracker

Shoeboxed is an awesome application for anyone who’s not interested in writing out all the details of their expenses. All you must do is take a picture of your receipt with your phone and the app instantly enters the data: total, payment type and category. It then generates expense reports that you can send from your phone or export to Quicken or Quickbooks.

Expensify

This app is ideal for just about anybody as it works across several mobile platforms. It can automatically import expenses and receipts directly from your credit cards, so you virtually have to do nothing but swipe your credit card. Like Shoeboxed, it is supported by Quickbooks and creates expense reports quickly and easily.

These are all fantastic options if you’re looking for a more streamlined approach to expense reports. There are plenty more options out there as well.

Check out this Mashable article for some applications that can work for anybody.

Are your passwords secure enough?

Creating a strong password doesn’t seem like it should be that hard but, surprisingly, many people still use shockingly obvious passwords. The password rules are easy and straightforward, making them very easy to follow.

  • Always make your passwords longer than six characters
  • Include a blend of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special characters
  • Don’t use a name or any word in the dictionary
  • Try using a phrase instead of a word
  • Don’t use the same password on multiple sites

The most important of these rules is the last one. Unfortunately, that is the one that is most often disregarded. It is essential because someone may potentially crack your password for one account and then have access to each and every account you have on the web.

Multiple passwords can get tricky to keep track of but, luckily, there are tools for that. KeePass and Tiny Password are great tools for managing a database of passwords. It’s important to keep in mind that the hassle of remembering multiple passwords is nothing compared to the hassle of having all of your accounts hacked.

For more password tips and pointers check out this Lifehacker article.

Microfiber cloths – are they actually all they're cracked up to be?

People commonly praise microfiber cloths as a great tool for cleaning computer screens. Some might question, however, just how crucial these cloths are and if some other tool may work just the same.

Although purchasing a microfiber cloth and cleaning solution might be the safest bet for cleaning your computer, phone or eReader screen, many people use old t-shirts without inflicting any damage. This can be a fast and easy way to clean your computer screen that doesn’t require purchasing a microfiber towel.

Homemade cleaning solution

You can also make your own harmless screen cleaning solution with everyday household products. You simply need:

  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • ½ cup of distilled water
  • a squirt bottle

Cleaning your screen

Just spray a 100% cotton t-shirt with the cleaning solution just so that the t-shirt is damp and wipe the screen in a circular motion. Rub the screen with a dry section of the t-shirt for a streak-free finish.

If you’re concerned about the safety of your screen, microfiber cloths and cleaning solutions are relatively inexpensive, and readily available for purchase at electronic stores. However, the t-shirt method is a great, simple substitute that can help you out in a crunch.

Mobile hotspots – what they are and how to benefit from them

The Verizon iPhone’s release has the tech world abuzz with talk of what the smartphone may offer. A few of the major themes are tethering and personal hotspots – two things many people are still confused about.

What they are

A mobile hotspot is basically a mobile broadband gadget that can be connected to the Internet just about anywhere. People can set up their smartphones to work as mobile hotspots as well. Tethering is the action of using your phone as a hotspot so that you can connect your computer or another device to the Internet.

Why they’re great

These hotspots are particularly useful for anyone who does a considerable amount of work on the road or even at coffee shops. The free Wi-Fi that is available at many locations is not secure, making any data you transmit vulnerable.

A mobile hotspot minimizes that security dilemma since it is a closed network that, in the case of a smartphone, will only be open to one user. 

How you can utilize one

Fortunately, many mobile providers make available mobile hotspot and tethering features in their wireless plans. When it comes to the new Verizon iPhone, hotspots will come at a price of $20 per month for 2 GB of data along with the required $30 data plan for the iPhone.

Because hotspot and tethering features come at a price, they aren’t ideal for everyone. If you access the Internet mainly from one location, it could be more convenient to utilize standard broadband Internet, which generally permits unlimited usage.

What does 4G really mean?

Plenty of people have been tossing around the term 4G lately. It seems like every mobile carrier claims to have the biggest or fastest 4G network around. So, what precisely is this 4G that everybody’s talking about?

 

 

Even though each of the key wireless providers, such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, have recently introduced smartphones with a “4G” network connection, it appears the definition of 4G varies from network to network. Let’s discuss the various definitions of “4G”.

 

 

HSPA

 

Both AT&T and T-Mobile have been utilizing HSPA for their 3G networks and HSPA is basically the same network with enhanced capacity. T-Mobile is now offering the improved technology in more major metropolitan areas than their HSPA competitor.

 

 

LTE

 

This is the technology that is currently being implemented by Verizon. The LTE network is based on Global System for Media (GSM) technology, rather than Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), which Verizon has always used. LTE has a higher capacity and offers download speeds of 5-12 Mbps, the equivalent of a typical home broadband connection.

 

 

In Verizon’s case, the LTE network is completely separate from the network that Verizon’s current users are on, reducing the chances of overcrowding.

 

 

Wi-Max

 

Wi-Max is also GSM-based, and it was originally regarded as the major contender for a 4G standard. Unfortunately, Wi-Max is not as fast as Verizon’s LTE network, but it is faster than AT&T and T-Mobile’s HSPA .

 

 

Unlike the other mobile carriers, Sprint’s version of a 4G network has been around for many months, meaning that their users were able to benefit from this technology long before users of other networks.

 

 

As you can see, there is no standard definition of a “4G” network. Luckily for us, the options are improving and the coverage is growing. Pretty soon, every carrier will have an enhanced network to choose from.

 

 

For more information on 4G networks and what they really mean, check out this Popular Science article.

Keyboard shortcuts – a great way to boost productivity

A keyboard shortcut is a straightforward, easy-to-use tool that may save you time on everyday tasks. Surprisingly, many people still don’t take advantage of these simple tools to help improve their efficiency.

Many programs, such as Microsoft Office and most web browsers, have built-in keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts can shorten and simplify tasks such as:

  • Launching a new browser window
  • Searching for a document
  • Saving a document
  • Attaching a document to an email

While these tasks aren’t all that time-consuming when performed with a mouse, the combined time you could potentially save by utilizing keyboard shortcuts is quite substantial.

If you find yourself performing lots of repetitive tasks, learning their shortcuts could surely be worth the effort. If there isn’t already a built-in shortcut for that task, creating your own shortcuts can be quite easy, depending on the program.

For tips on how to create your own keyboard shortcuts, check out these articles on: