Monthly Archives: May 2012

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.

Stay safe online with these tips

The recent Playstation security breach has opened many Internet users’ eyes to the importance of online security. If the wrong person gets their hands on your information, there is a possibility that the result could be harmful. Luckily, there are a number of easy steps you can take to better protect your online identity.

Use an encrypted connection

Using an encrypted connection is an extremely simple way to achieve greater online security. Many websites, including most social networking sites, have recently adopted more secure connections, although you sometimes have to change the settings to get the extra level of security.

In order to see whether or not your connection is safe, check the URL. A secure connection will have a URL that begins with “https” instead of simply “http.” Unfortunately, all sites don’t use encrypted connections, so this is not always a possibility.

Use strong passwords

Strong passwords are usually one of the best ways to keep your information protected. By using spaces, symbols, numbers and a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, one can easily attain a strong password. Even if you don’t utilize all of these tips, be sure to use something that can’t be easily guessed by hackers.

Also, be sure to use a unique password for each site. If one site is hacked into, your password to that site may become vulnerable. Having the same password for multiple other sites will make the information stored on those sites vulnerable as well.

Look out for phishing

Phishing is basically when a hacker poses as a trustworthy company, like a bank, in order to obtain sensitive information from people. It is fairly common due to its relative ease, since all the hackers need is your name and email address.

The recent data breach suffered by Epsilon is a great example of how phishing can come about. The people that hacked Epsilon’s network immediately gained access to thousands of email addresses and therefore had the opportunity to get sensitive, personal information from people.

These three tips are unbelievably easy to follow through with and instantly increase your online security. If you’d like more information on protecting your online identity, check out this article.

Doing work from the road can be tricky – simplify it with these suggestions

Many people travel frequently for business. Unfortunately, many business travelers don’t know how to be most productive while they’re on the road. We have put together a list of tools and tips that can help you to be more productive and keep your work and devices safe while you’re on the go.

Tools for easier travel

There are virtually countless options when it comes to tools that make traveling easier. The options range from luggage to apps, and everything in between.

One tool that can take a lot of stress out of traveling is TripIt. It is an app that organizes all of your travel information for you. You can email your itinerary to TripIt and it keeps track of your flight times, hotel information, and frequent flier numbers, all in one spot.

Luggage that is conducive to business travel is critical as well. These are some of the key luggage features that can make traveling a breeze:

  • Laptop compartment – It’s best to have a separate compartment for your laptop so that finding it at security, or even once you get to your destination, is a breeze. Nobody enjoys being the person who’s holding up the security line.
  • A wire pouch – Having a specific spot to place all of your chargers and other wires is great for anyone with lots of gadgets. You no longer have to wonder where you placed everything, as there is a designated pocket for it.
  • Convertibility – A convertible bag is ideal for someone who goes on a variety of business trips. If you need to carry everything through the airport one day and carry only your laptop the next, finding a bag that can serve both purposes is beneficial.

Security tools

Many of us travel with our most valued possessions, which just adds to our stress for fear of losing them. Because of that, it’s smart to bring a personal safe and a notebook lock that can keep some of the most valuable items secure when you can’t keep an eye on them.

In general, it’s best to err on the side of caution when you’re traveling with valuable items. If it’s something you can’t afford to lose, keep it somewhere safe, or bring it with you. This article offers a number of great security devices that can help protect your gadgets on the go.

Boosting productivity

Productivity can certainly wane while you’re working from a hotel room or coffee shop on the road. General unfamiliarity with your surroundings can slow down certain processes that are usually quick and painless.

For most jobs, it’s necessary to have Internet access, particularly when you are away from your coworkers. Some hotels do not have access to the Internet, and if that is the case you should consider bringing a wireless card or mobile Wi-Fi device that would let you easily access the Internet and your email.

Finally, consider bringing a back pillow. Hotel desk chairs are typically not ergonomic and can be seriously painful for your back if you sit in them for too long. Back pillows generally aren’t too bulky and can make all the difference when you’re working in an unfamiliar chair.

There are many things that can make working from the road easier and more productive. These tools and tips can be incredibly helpful and help you learn how to be at your best while you’re on the go.