Moving Beyond the Mouse: Connecting with Our Computers in the Future

Mouse-free computing is something we have just begun to taste. We have touchscreens on many devices including tablets, phones, and e-readers. These allow us to access the web; send texts, and emails all without using a mouse

Mouse-free computing is something we have just begun to taste. We have touchscreens on many devices including tablets, phones, and e-readers. These allow us to access the web; send texts, and emails all without using a mouse. Is this the shape of things to come? Can we eventually leave the mouse in the dust and start mastering more advanced ways of communicating with our computers?

Gesture sensing

Gesture sensing is one thing most gamers are familiar with. The PlayStation and Wii both use this technology. By using a wireless remote you are able to control the game using only body movements. This technology hasn’t been perfected or widely applied to computing but think about the possibilities. Perhaps in the future we will boot our computer by putting on a sensor bracelet and each little gesture we make will carry out a task on our computer!

Multi-touch technology

Multi-touch technology is another interactive innovation. This is what is being applied when you tap your smartphone screen to access programs, or swipe your finger across the surface of your tablet to change screens. In the past few years we have seen a great deal of growth in this technology. Do you think this will end up being the primary way we navigate around our computers?

Voice recognition

This technology has been with us for quite a while but has had lots of kinks. As these get resolved, it will continue to gain popularity. This technology allows people to simply speak commands to their computer to complete them. The most common vendor for vocal recognition software is Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Once this technology is refined the possibilities for its utilization in computing are endless.

No matter what happens, though, chances are that we’ll still rely, at least somewhat, on the humble mouse. After all, it has served us well for quite some time.

An Analysis of Smartphone Charge Pads

You use your smartphone to purchase movie tickets, download your favorite songs, and make online reservations at the new French restaurant. However, if your smartphone battery dies, you can not do any of this. And to be honest, charging your smartphone the old-fashioned way is a drag.

You use your smartphone to purchase movie tickets, download your favorite songs, and make online reservations at the new French restaurant. However, if your smartphone battery dies, you can not do any of this. And to be honest, charging your smartphone the old-fashioned way is a drag. You have to plug your charger into an outlet and leave it connected long enough to give it sufficient power.

But there is now an easier way to charge your device: a smartphone charging pad.

Charge your phone wirelessly

These flat pads, which look like little mats, permit smartphone users to charge their phones wirelessly. What this means is no hunting for an available outlet and no fumbling with twisted cords. Even better, you can put many devices on your charge pads at the same time and charge all of them at once. Charge pads work with everything from smartphones and electronic readers to iPods, iPads, and digital cameras.

But how do these devices work? Fundamentally, a charge pad relies on electro-magnetic induction charging. They produce a magnetic field atop the mat that provides power to the batteries of your devices.

Charge pads a technology in progress

You would imagine that these would be more popular then they are. But, there are a couple of reasons why they aren’t. Firstly, they’re a bit costly, often costing as much as the gadgets you wish to charge.

Additionally, they take up space. For people hoping to save space and eliminate mess, this negates their purpose.

An improving wireless world

As technology improves we are sure to see smaller, more efficient, and cheaper charging pads that can be purchased. Sooner or later, my guess is that these will be must-have items.

Be More Productive with Windows 7

Windows 7 is a huge improvement over previous Windows operating systems. Learning to use this version well can boost your productivity substantially. By mastering a few simple tricks, you can get the most out of Windows 7.

Windows 7 is a huge improvement over previous Windows operating systems. Learning to use this version well can boost your productivity substantially.

By mastering a few simple tricks, you can get the most out of Windows 7.

  • Coping images to a CD or DVD is easy with Windows 7. Just double click the image, and choose the drive that has your blank disk. Pick the burn option and Windows 7 takes it from there!
  • Effortlessly find and repair problems. If your operating system is acting strangely, simply click the “Control Panel” option. From there, you can simply click “troubleshooting” to access a number of wizards that will take care of common operating problems. This includes cleaning up systems that are slowed by an excessive amount of adware and other clutter.
  • Installing too much cumbersome software will slow your system down. You are able to prevent this by utilizing the AppLocker feature. This enables you to pre-approve certain programs for installation. Which prevents any non-preapproved software from being downloaded.
  • Windows 7 includes its own power efficiency service. This enables you to access reams of data about how much energy your laptop is consuming. This may be important if you’re working from a remote location and are not close to a charging source.

7 Things to Know About WordPress

It’s time to put a popular misconception to rest: “isn’t WordPress only a blogging platform?” While this used to be the truth, according to an article by Tech Crunch, approximately 22% of newly published websites are created on WordPress . What’s more impressive, one of the most popular publishers is using WordPress as their platform

It’s time to put a popular misconception to rest: “isn’t WordPress only a blogging platform?” While this used to be the truth, according to an article by Tech Crunch, approximately 22% of newly published websites are created on WordPress. What’s more impressive, one of the most popular publishers is using WordPress as their platform.

Here are 7 things you should know about WordPress:

  1. WordPress offers dynamic page generation. This means no more rebuilding all your pages each time you update your website! Updating your site’s content and design is quick and simple, and the necessary server storage space usage is nominal.
  2. You can get a subdomain for free! Whenever you register with WordPress to get a free site, you can easily name your free subdomain like this: www.yourname.wordpress.org.
  3. The ‘Famous 5 minute install’. For people who have already purchased and are hosting your domain in another place, WordPress can be installed quickly and easily. And have no anxiety – coding is not necessary.
  4. If you do own your own domain there are a few minimum requirements to run WordPress. You’ll want to ensure you have the appropriate and compliant versions of PHP and MySQL. This will ensure you can receive accurate WordPress support when necessary.
  5. Themes are plentiful! Before attempting to build your own theme, search to see what other themes have been created and are available.
  6. WordPress has centralized management. Making managing your pages, posts, as well as your users simple with WordPress.
  7. WordPress encourages e-commerce. There is an plethora of plugins that have already been developed that allow you to accept payments, promote, and more on your website. The easy plugin search keeps these options at your fingertips.

Not everything is an iPad: Gadgets That Never Caught On

Smartphones, iPads, iPods, and notebook computers are examples of the must-have gadgets of the last five years.

Smartphones, iPads, iPods, and notebook computers are examples of the must-have gadgets of the last five years. However, for every iPad there’s an Apple TV—a tech failure. Organizations take a chance when they send a new piece of technology into the market. There is no guarantee that no matter how cool or handy a gadget is that it’ll become popular with the buying public. Understanding that, here is a quick look at some of the best known technology failures of the last decade.

Famous tech failures

  • Apple TV: This gadget gives users the ability to purchase entertainment from iTunes then stream it to the device of their choice. Good idea? Most likely, if it wasn’t so limited to iTunes. 
  • Sony Mylo: The Mylo came and went quickly so you may not remember it. It was aimed toward the 18 to 20 something crowd and was a Wi-Fi-enabled mobile device. It allowed people to play games, connect to the Internet, and also had Skype preinstalled on it. Sadly, the presence of the iPhone and its extensive app store overshadowed it.

The Segway peters out

  • Segway PT: It was believed that the Segway PT would replace cars in urban areas. It made it simple for people to just zip to the market or make the short commute downtown. But it never quite caught on. Unfortunately for the manufacturers, people thought balancing on two wheels made them look a little silly.

The CueCat doesn’t purr

  • CueCat: The CueCat was a digital barcode reader manufactured by Digital Convergence Corporation. In the shape of a cat, this device allowed the consumer to scan a bar code and be quickly guided to a company’s website. This did not go over well, but it may have paved the way for the now widespread QR code.

Data Security and Your Small Business: What You Need To Know

It is easy to fall into the mistaken idea that you already possess enough safeguards in place to protect your small business. You almost certainly stay current with the latest antivirus software, but is that enough

It is easy to fall into the mistaken idea that you already possess enough safeguards in place to protect your small business. You almost certainly stay current with the latest antivirus software, but is that enough? You also probably feel that since you’re not a huge corporation, you don’t have to worry about cyber criminals hacking into your system. But here’s the unfortunate reality: cyber criminals have upped their game and are starting to target small businesses increasingly more. Let’s take a closer look to  give you a better understanding of the level of danger your business may be under.

Small firms: low-hanging fruit

The facts are, hackers have found that small businesses are easier targets, and are increasingly preying upon them. They are able to infiltrate their systems at a much faster rate, and with a better percentage of success as well. This means a cyber criminal can assault multiple targets in the time it would take them to lay siege to a better-guarded system with a higher level of data security. How can it be worth their while to steal from a mom and pop operation? In the present modern world, virtually every business employs digital payment processing methods. When your customers pay using a credit card, this data must run through your system to be verified. This represents a goldmine of data for hackers, as they can lift this information without being discovered. With your customers’ credit card numbers, addresses and names, they are able to make bogus charges on their accounts.

How hackers gain access to your data

How can they get this delicate data? Though you might be protected by software designed to firewall your systems, hackers still have several points of entry. Email attachments are a major offender, and openingjust one piece of malware can leave you exposed. Believe it or not, in the first quarter of this year alone, industry experts have found over six million unique malware programs. Attackers don’t have to be sophisticated to be harmful: when trying to breach your data security, some hackers have a low-tech strategy instead. They could contact your employees directly, and posing as a network administrator, ask for their password to boost security. This is known as “phishing.” While you may believe your employees know better than to be seduced by such an evident tact, it takes merely one lapse in judgment to leave your systems open to attack.

The buck stops with you

If you feel that maintaining data security is not vital, consider that should your systems be breached, your clients will likely hold you personally responsible for any stolen information or property. These kind of events cost companies thousands of dollars each year and can damage a company’s name so badly  that they have to close their doors permanently.

An ounce of prevention…

Taking extra precautions when it comes to your business’ data security is a very wise move. Continue to update your programs and passwords on a regular basis. Teach your employees good security practices like setting up strong passwords and instructing them to never give out login information or open suspicious emails. Hiring an outside consultant is another great way to ensure your clients’ information. These measures not only give you peace of mind, they tell your clients that you care about keeping them safe.

Improve Your Company Culture: Part 2

Our last blog centered around company culture as well as the effect it could have on your brand. Your company’s culture, positive or negative, shows up in your brands reputation.

Our last blog centered around company culture as well as the effect it could have on your brand. Your company’s culture, positive or negative, shows up in your brands reputation. We talked about methods to measure the cultural health of your organization, but exactly how do you give your company a cultural transformation?

The first step is to ask yourself a couple of questions to get an idea of the “feel” you would like your company to have:

  • What attributes do you value that you want to show up in your company’s culture? Respect, acceptance, creativity, fun, etc.?
  • What are the major values or focus of your company? How can you make that prominent in the culture?
  • How is information shared with employees? Are they left in the dark a lot?
  • Do you reward employees and in what ways? 
  • Does everyone feel heard in the company? Do people feel free to express their ideas and give their opinions?

These may lead to more questions. To get answers try brainstorming with your colleagues. Here are a few suggestions to get the process started:

Suggestion/Thought box – This is an good way to allow people to share thoughts and opinions about the current events within the company. The employee could choose to make the suggestion anonymous or not, and any suggestions or concerns could be addressed in monthly company meetings.

Empower employees – Let your staff make decisions. Treat the employees as peers; allow them to have a say and listen to their ideas. Also be a transparent leader. Don’t just tell your employees when things are great, but also inform them tactfully when things aren’t going so well.

Flexible hours – Trusting your employees to get their work done is key. Don’t constantly hang over or micro-manage them. Trusting your employees to get their jobs done gives you less anxiety, as well as result in the general company culture more respectful.

Dress code – Long gone are the days of the suit and tie on a daily basis (at least in many fields), so let employees express themselves with their clothing. This can make them feel free and accepted. Another approach is to have themed clothing days. Examples of this are: wig day, silly t-shirt day, hat day, etc. Let employees make recommendations for themes. A little silly goes a long way.

Celebrate – Your business is the sum of everybody in it. Celebrate your team with group activities.  For example, cater lunch for everybody, have a movie or game day, or just throw a party. This can lead to more cohesion within your team and encourage collaboration.

Below is a variety of things that real companies do to add some fun to their culture:

  • Spontaneous Nerf gun wars
  • Painting inspirational quotes on the walls
  • Hitting a loud gong when there is a success to let the whole company know
  • Foosball tournaments
  • Lunchtime Yoga
  • Lunchtime Crafting Club
  • Monday Mad Libs, whoever wishes to contribute, does, and then the completed Mad Lib is emailed to the company

Is The Culture of your Company Healthy? Part 1

Often, in business, concentrating on the strategy of the company is the main objective. Is that because it’s the most important aspect to concentrate on? Many businesses think so, but solely focusing on strategy may lead a company into stagnation

Often, in business, concentrating on the strategy of the company is the main objective.
Is that because it’s the most important aspect to concentrate on? Many businesses think so, but solely focusing on strategy may lead a company into stagnation. People make up a company and they collectively create the culture of the company. Culture does not just impact the employees in your office, it has effects on your brand, marketing, and how the public in general views your company. Without a healthy prospering culture a brand has little possibility of long-term success.  When we look at brands like Apple, Google, or Starbucks we not only recognize the brand, but we correlate a number of feelings and thoughts about these companies. This is largely due to the culture of these companies.

Why Culture is so Important

A healthy workplace culture encourages creativity. When employees like the place they work and feel like they are part of the team it can make them challenge themselves in innovative ways. In a workplace in which people feel invisible or stifled they will often do the minimum amount required. It is a part of human nature to want to feel valued and important. An organization is made of its people so whatever mindset prevails will show up in your brand and the merchandise and service you provide. Ultimately, taking care of the culture of your workplace is everyone’s responsibility from the CEO to HR.

If you are not yet convinced, here are a couple of the obvious advantages of fostering a healthy culture.

  • Focus – The old adage holds true; two heads are better then one. When all the people in a company are focused on the same goal, everything runs more efficiently. This type of focus comes with a healthy culture; the workers will care about the collective goal because they feel like they are a part of it. When people do not feel like they are part of the team, they don’t care about the goal, and this can bring about cynicism.
  • Cohesion – The basis of cohesion is strong communication between associates, whether they are facing successes or roadblocks. Strong communication fortifies teamwork and makes operations run more smoothly. In a workplace with an unhealthy culture, people could be nervous to offer feedback about problems that arise or might not care enough to act quickly when issues do arise.
  • Motivation – A determined workforce gets things done. That may seem obvious, but companies that do not pay attention to the health of their culture may be struggling when it comes to productivity. Being motivated to work hard is a trait that ought to be present in every person in the company if the culture is healthy.

Measuring the Cultural Health of Your Company

You should assess your company’s culture a few times a year. How can you do this? First, consider how your workers are managed. It is true that a few people may never be happy but, in general, if the opinion is unfavorable begin thinking about modifications to improve the culture to help your business. Tune in soon for a few tips on making your company culture more positive.