Inclement Weather

Please note that large sections of our service areas are under Winter Storm Watches at this time. Specifically, customers with sites in South Carolina and Georgia may see ice accumulations overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday night.

We urge everyone to make plans to deal with possible power, phone, and Internet outages from ice accumulations beginning on Tuesday afternoon.

Please note that icy conditions, including freezing rain and sleet, will prevent us from traveling for scheduled maintenance. We will, however, be able to provide remote assistance Tuesday and Wednesday, provided that power and Internet lines are functioning.

We will update you as we continue to monitor the situation.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Online Invoicing Made Simple

Chances are you started your business because you love what you do. You opened your doors because you have a strong product that you believe in.  You probably did not start a business because your paperwork skills were unparalleled.  Paperwork is a vital and necessary evil for any business owner and proper invoicing can’t be ignored. We all need cash flow to keep our businesses adrift, so employing a good invoicing system can help us keep cash in the bank and our clients happy! Invoicing help online Using a web-based invoicing service is a possible option for business owners who need a quicker, more reliable way, and often-automatic means to invoice their customers.

Chances are you started your business because you love what you do. You opened your doors because you have a strong product that you believe in.  You probably did not start a business because your paperwork skills were unparalleled.  Paperwork is a vital and necessary evil for any business owner and proper invoicing can’t be ignored. We all need cash flow to keep our businesses adrift, so employing a good invoicing system can help us keep cash in the bank and our clients happy!

Invoicing help online

Using a web-based invoicing service is a possible option for business owners who need a quicker, more reliable way, and often-automatic means to invoice their customers. You can find a vast number of available online options to choose from that can take that cumbersome task of paperwork off your plate. Below we’ll examine just 3 of the options available:

A free but powerful invoicing service

First, let’s look at a zero cost system: BillingBoss. Of course its biggest advantage is that it is 100% free, but that doesn’t mean it’s not robust. Most small businesses will be pleased with BillingBoss’s capability to automatically invoice customers on a monthly basis and send once-off invoices for more infrequent clients.

A power tool

AcceptPay isn’t free. It costs $30 a month, but it’s a powerful program. Offered by American Express, AcceptPay works with QuickBooks, will accept online payments, and of course, offers you a wide range of options with regards to sending out invoices and collecting payments. The $30 expense is a small price to pay for such a powerful online invoicing tool.

Invoicing for the tech-savvy

If you want more control over your online invoicing, you might look at downloading BambooInvoice. This is another free service. What sets it apart, though, is that small business owners host it on their own servers, not in the cloud. Because it’s an open source program, tech-savvy entrepreneurs can personalize it to fit their business’s unique needs.

These are just a few of the available options online. Most services are free or exceptionally cost-effective. If you want to take the reigns on your invoicing process, think about employing an online solution.

The Segway turned 10!

The name Segway is associated with tech failure. After all, inventor Dean Kamen once thought that his two-wheeled scooters would become a substitute for cars. He pictured a future in which people buzzed to the supermarket, library, or work on their Segway PT scooters.

The name Segway is associated with tech failure. After all, inventor Dean Kamen once thought that his two-wheeled scooters would become a substitute for cars. He pictured a future in which people buzzed to the supermarket, library, or work on their Segway PT scooters.

We are all aware that didn’t happen. The Segway is still around and it isn’t a totally uncommon site to see someone taking a Segway out for a “drive” around the block.  For a “failed” technology, that is a pretty notable feat!

But how do these two-wheeled scooters work? Electric motors hold the key.

Powering the Segway

Each Segway PT is powered by electric motors which are, in turn, fueled by phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries. Segway owners can charge these batteries by plugging their Segways into common residential electrical sockets. The unit doesn’t tip over due to its two computers loaded with proprietary software, pair of tilt sensors, and five gyroscopic sensors.

Making the Segway Move

The user plays the biggest role in making the Segway move. By simply shifting your weight in the direction you wish to go and moving the handlebars a little, the Segway’s sensors acknowledge the modification in balance point and react appropriately. The most up-to-date version of the Segway features a top speed of 12.5 MPH. For obvious reason, it performs best on flat surfaces.

Lowered Expectations

Experts touted that the Segway would be a bigger deal that Internet. Clearly the device didn’t live up to that level of hype!

However, once the Segway was released many thought it looked strange and you looked weird riding one. Others thought it looked unsafe. Regardless, the downsides were enough to prevent the Segway from reaching its promised potential.

Top Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Android Phone

There’s a major difference between Android smartphones and Apple’s iPhones. Android phones, powered by Google, permit a remarkable amount of customization. Android phones are open source

There’s a major difference between Android smartphones and Apple’s iPhones. Android phones, powered by Google, permit a remarkable amount of customization. Android phones are open source. Which means you are able to customize everything from your Android phone’s home screen to the way you download apps and programs. This allows for a lot of freedom and best of all, customizing your Android smartphone isn’t much of a task. Simply follow the tips below to create a smartphone that’s as distinctive as you are.

One-Touch Dialing
Certainly there are people in your life that you call more then others. With Android phones, it is possible to set up one-touch dialing for these people. Just press an open space on your home screen, when the menu pops up select the “Shortcuts” option. Choose Direct Dial and find the right person from your list of contacts. After that you can select which button you would like them set to. Easy as that!

Saving Time Searching the Web
Your Android phone can be customized to include your most frequently visited Web sites on the home screen. This is accomplished by pressing and holding the preferred site in your browser’s bookmarks. A list of options will pop up. Select the “Add Shortcut to Home” option. This will add the Web page to your phone’s home page.

Organizing with Folders
Creating folders on your Android phone will help you keep everything organized, out of your contacts to work documents. To create folders on your home screen, press a blank space on the screen. When the menu pops up, choose “Folders.” This will let you create folders and name them. Then, simply, drag and drop documents, images, and files into these folders.