Building a Better Battery

Your smartphone is wonderful. It can steer you to that trendy new fusion restaurant if you’re lost

Your smartphone is wonderful. It can steer you to that trendy new fusion restaurant if you’re lost. It can play your favorite sitcom as you head to work on the train. It can play your favorite song at the touch of a button. However it can’t do any of this if its battery is dead.

A Better Battery on the Way?

Fortunately, a better battery might soon be on the way, due to the efforts of a team of engineers at Chicago’s Northwestern University. A recent story reports that researchers at this Big 10 university are attempting to make a battery that lasts longer and can recharge itself in just minutes. Smartphone users around the world ought to be thankful.

Northwestern’s researchers have found a way to extend the charge of lithium-ion batteries by more then 10 times the current lithium-ion battery life. They’re even boasting that after 150 charges, which they believe represents about a year of operation, the new lithium-ion battery will be 5 times more effective than batteries at this time.

A Charged Battery for a Week

Here’s the bottom line: The new cell phone battery could remain charged for over a week and then recharge itself in just 15 minutes. This is good news for you: It could mean that your iPod won’t run out of juice while you are working the treadmill at the gym. But the new, better battery may have a much greater impact: According to the Northwestern story, this new battery technology could result in smaller and more efficient batteries for electric cars. This may help the United States—and other countries—cut its reliance upon fossil fuels.

Batteries Powering Technological Change

The new battery technology isn’t available yet for consumers, however the Northwestern researchers say that it could hit the market in 3 to 5 years. This is a big step. When we look at developments in technology, we tend to forget about the batteries that power our latest gadgets. Battery limitations are one of the factors holding back an even greater technology revolution. The hope is that the research done at Northwestern University can change this.

Bing is Worth Another Look

When it comes to online search engines, Google remains king. Microsoft isn’t happy with this

When it comes to online search engines, Google remains king. Microsoft isn’t happy with this. That is why the company introduced Bing in 2009, its own search engine and a direct competitor with Google. Ever since then, Bing has gone the way of most Google-search competitors: It’s mostly an afterthought when computer users want to search the web. Most searchers still use Google for this task. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that Bing offers nothing for computer users. The truth is, Microsoft did a lot right with Bing, and the search engine delivers plenty of exciting features that users shouldn’t ignore.

Taking Another Look at Bing

When searching on Bing, you get more information about your search results then you do with Google. Bing has a navigation panel on the left that allows users to focus their search easily. In addition, it organizes search results into logical categories, making it easier to get quick answers.

Bing Goes Beyond Search Results

Another great advantage of Bing is that it doesn’t just bring up search results. It also brings up relevant videos, music, and images. Although this is an element of Google as well, Bing makes it easier to use, as the categories are right beneath the search bar. Bing beats Google for travel searches as well. They use something called Farecast Technology in the Bing Travel site; it lets users find the cheapest flights quickly and easily.

Bing Video Search Shines

Bing stands out from Google in terms of searching for videos as well. Bing allows users to specify how long they would like videos to be, what resolution they want, and what screen size they would prefer. In addition, to get a preview of the video, users only have to hover their cursor over the video to play a portion of it without clicking on it.

These are some of the reasons why computer users should not be so quick to discount Bing. Yes, Google remains the go-to player with regards to search engines. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the only choice today.

How the Hybrid Cloud Differs from the Public Cloud

Cloud computing is becoming increasingly more common.

Cloud computing is becoming increasingly more common. A very basic definition of the cloud is: a group of remote servers where people can store and access their data. One advantage of utilizing the cloud is that powerful programs and files may be stored at a remote location so they don’t burn up memory on personal computers and slow down operating systems.

Not All Clouds are the Same

However; there are different types of clouds. You have the public cloud, the private cloud, and the hybrid cloud. Most people use the public cloud, businesses that wish to use cloud services to store very private data can elect to use a private cloud, and the hybrid cloud is a combination of the two.

The hybrid cloud typically works like this: A business provides some resources in-house. For instance, it might store current consumer data on its private in-house cloud. It may also store employee information, new marketing campaigns, and current proposals to new clients on its in-house storage. That same business, though, might store older, archived data on a public cloud service. This frees up space on the business’ servers, and permits its in-house computers to perform more efficiently.

The Hybrid Cloud Approach Makes Sense

This frees up space on the in-house servers while making sure certain data is highly safeguarded. The hybrid cloud is a fantastic strategy to provide businesses with high security cloud services while decreasing costs and saving space.

It’s not surprising that many businesses use the hybrid cloud. There is too much data storage needed these days for a organization to store it all and not slow down their systems. Furthermore, in this competitive climate, companies must ensure their sensitive information is safeguarded. The hybrid cloud is often the best way businesses can accomplish these two things.

Remote Workers: Benefits and Managerial Tips

Remote working is becoming more common in the business world today. This is possible due to advancements in technology; i.e. smartphones, tablets, and the growing number of public places that have WiFi.

Remote working is becoming more common in the business world today. This is possible due to advancements in technology; i.e. smartphones, tablets, and the growing number of public places that have WiFi. There can be many advantages for the employer and the employee. Remote workers are often more productive, and they are less of a drain on the company resources. For instance, you don’t need to have office space and furniture for remote works. And the benefit of adjusting their schedule to fit their life is a major plus for the employee.

Remote Worker Challenges

One worry that lots of employers have when deciding to hire remote workers is, how can they monitor the amount of work they do? How do they know they are truly working and not just playing games on their computer all day?

Employers can resolve this dilemma by setting realistic deadlines for their remote employees and expecting these workers to fulfill them. What should matter for employers is that work is done in timely manner. It should not matter if workers complete their tasks from midnight to four in the morning.

Setting Remote Worker Deadlines

This is most likely the easiest way to monitor your remote workers. Employers may decide that a certain amount of work needs to be turned in by Friday. One other way would be to set up weekly or bi-weekly meetings via phone or video chat. To resolve any feelings of detachment some employers may ask that a remote worker spend one day a week at the office. This can help keep everyone on track and informed.

Off-Site Not a Permanent Condition

Employers should remember, as well, that remote workers don’t have to stay that way. If employers find that their off-site workers are not meeting deadlines or are turning in sub-par work, they can require that these workers return to the office on a full-time basis. Trust remains the key element of a remote working relationship. Organisations must place some trust in their workers that they’ll finish their jobs on time. Workers must show that they are deserving of this trust by hitting their deadlines, turning in quality work, and replying quickly to phone calls or email messages.

The Best Smartphone Apps for Business People on the Go

Your business keeps you busy. You are balancing three projects simultaneously for your employer.

Your business keeps you busy. You are balancing three projects simultaneously for your employer. You’re traveling more frequently than you are at home, and your day planner is covered in ink. You need smartphone apps that will make life easier for you, not complicate it. Thankfully, there is a host of smartphone applications out there developed precisely to simplify life for the busiest of business professionals. Listed below are five of the top ones to explore.

Top 5 Business Apps

  1. WhosHere: This app enables you to find freelance contractors in your area swiftly. Say you need to finish a project due tomorrow in Chicago and you are flying today. You can search for freelancers with the app and then send a free text or call to the people who reply to your search.
  2. Locale: It is embarrassing when your phone goes off during a movie, but what about during a board meeting? This never needs to happen again if you use Locale. It lets you choose specific phone settings based on location. So when you walk into your office or the library your phone automatically goes to vibrate.
  3. WaveSecure: One of the hazards of traveling frequently is the chance of loosing your phone. This app will let you lock your phone and backup the data stored on it remotely, as well as monitor its location through the SIM card. Talk about peace of mind.
  4. Bump: It’s all about connections right? Well, Bump lets you exchange contact information with someone merely by bumping both phones together. Bid farewell to post-tradeshow data entry.
  5. Scan2PDF Mobile: Need to scan receipts for your expense report, or proposals for your boss to review? This app lets you do that with your smartphone’s camera, convert them into color PDFs, then e-mail them to your computer’s desktop.

Constant Connectivity: When Should You Unplug

Do you remember a time when you took your dog for a walk without texting, or enjoyed a game with your friends without checking your email?

Do you remember a time when you took your dog for a walk without texting, or enjoyed a game with your friends without checking your email? It was called downtime and it was healthy for you. In this age of connectivity it seems like that may be a thing of the past. Today having our devices with us at all times is not unusual, but is it healthy?

It’s tough to deny that life has become easier on account of connectivity. We don’t need to panic about getting lost as our smartphones can guide us. We can easily stay on top of emails, social media interactions, and even Google information regardless of where we are.

But have you ever realized how infrequently we are alone with only our thoughts nowadays? Some social commentators have wondered if this increase in communication will negatively impact the philosophical side of our species. Without the time and space to sit and ponder will we cease to do so?

That’s a huge question, but there is an even more important question that you should contemplate: Is your constant connectivity healthy? When should you unplug from your tablet, smartphone, and iPod?

It’s not healthy to always be working. It’s equally unhealthy to always be searching for the next piece of entertainment, gossip, or tweet from a friend. In other words, the body needs time to rest, to reflect, to think. If you find that you can not go a few minutes without checking your e-mail, sending a text, or Tweeting a friend, perhaps it’s time to unplug.

While being connected helps create relationships online it can harm ones offline. When you’re out withyour friends and family members it may be good practice to unplug. It’s just too easy to text and check your email, forgetting to give the ones around you the attention they deserve.

If you find that you’re seldom without an electronic gadget in your hand, consider unplugging, at least for a short while. You will probably find that working less makes you more effective and less stressed.

Five Excel Tips to Impress Your Boss

You would love to get that promotion, or maybe you’re in search of that elusive raise. Perhaps you simply want to secure your career in this down economic time

You would love to get that promotion, or maybe you’re in search of that elusive raise. Perhaps you simply want to secure your career in this down economic time. But whatever the motive, you are looking for ways to impress your supervisor.

Well, you could use Excel. Excel is a very powerful program; there is a lot to learn. We are not going to go over everything you can do with Excel here, but you will find out a few ways to boost your efficiency and maybe get some recognition as well.

  • Hiding Information: You may wonder why you would want to hide specific information in a spreadsheet. Well, suppose the spreadsheet which includes all your data about the company also has everyone’s salary. That is confidential information that you don’t want to reveal at the meeting. Simple hide the column or row by clicking the related number or letter to highlight it, then right-click on that highlighted row or column and select the Hide option from the popup menu. You can then Unhide the row or column in the same way once the meeting has ended.
  • Timestamping: If you’d like to attach a date to your spreadsheet, you can use the Timestamp feature. Just hold Ctrl as you press the semicolon key. If you would like the current date and time hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys while pressing the semicolon.
  • A Better-Looking Spreadsheet: You can spruce up a boring spreadsheet with Excel’s Themes option. You can find this option in Excel’s Ribbon. Simply click on it, and you’ll discover a variety of different fonts and colors which you can use on your previously boring spreadsheets.
  • Tracking Trends: This is only applicable for those who have a more up to date version of Excel. The feature is called Sparklines and with it you can create charts that relate trends in the information in your spreadsheet. One way this can be used is to quickly and easily see how many software bundles your company’s salespeople sold in the first quarter of 2011.
  • Conditional Formatting: This feature allows formatting only in cells that meet the requirements that you choose. For instance you could chose to have any dollar amount over 1,000 be a particular color.

New year, New Tech Security Challenges

Technology is always changing and adapting. So, unfortunately, are cyber-criminals. MIT’s Technology Review website not long ago presented its list of the biggest technology security threats of 2012

Technology is always changing and adapting. So, unfortunately, are cyber-criminals. MIT’s Technology Review website not long ago presented its list of the biggest technology security threats of 2012. If you spend much of your life surfing the web or communicating with your friends through social media sites, you should be curious about this list. Understanding what’s on it can protect you and your computer in 2012.

Stolen, Spoofed Certificates

The biggest problem that the Technology Review article dealt with is the growing quantity of stolen or spoofed certificates. As the article reports, each time you connect to a site, such as your bank’s website, your traffic is encrypted using a “certificate” that the site uses to prove to your web browser that it can be trusted. In 2011, though, cyber-criminals had the ability to spoof or steal a number of these certificates. This can help them steal user data or install malicious software on their computers.

A Common Security Mechanism in Trouble?

This is a major problem since the use of certificates and encrypted data is the most common security mechanism on the web. If they can no longer be trusted, that means possible trouble for all computer users.

Another key security challenge that we should become aware of is “hacktivism”. “Hacktivism” is the blend of the words activism and hack. Groups such as Anonymous and LulzSec target corporations that they feel are either guilty of wrongdoings or just want to prove the companies have lax security. Whatever the reason, Technology Review says we should anticipate groups like these to carry on their “hacktivism” well into the future.

Home Automation

The growing popularity of home automation also creates security risks in 2012. As Technology Review writes, an increasing number of automation systems link security systems, thermostats, lights, and even the locks to homes’ front doors to the web. Imagine the damage that hackers can do should they break into these systems.