Blog

Archive for Technology

How to Get Better Wi-Fi

The cable plan you signed up for promised up to 300 Mbps of blistering Internet speed, but reality has proven to be somewhat different. You’re barely topping 25 Mbps, Netflix doesn’t work upstairs and by 7 p.m., no one seems to be able to stream anything at all.

It’s quite possible to boost your Wi-Fi speed yourself, with the solution being as simple as moving your router or as persnickety as switching Wi-Fi frequencies.

The distance between the router and connecting devices, as well as the number of walls and floors in between, make a big difference. While a Wi-Fi signal can travel hundreds of feet in an unobstructed space, walls and floors can cut that distance by half or more.

Your connection speed can also be influenced by your router—how old it is, how good its processor and antenna are, how good it is at picking up wireless signals and how many devices are using it.

In some cases, your connection speed may even come down to your service provider’s preference for certain kinds of traffic. Service providers prioritize voice traffic first, then their own video services.

What actions can you take to increase your Wi-Fi performance and get your streaming speed back up to par?

1. Check the router

The IP connection between your device and the router or between the router and Internet can get hung up. A restart of the router reboots all its systems, including the network processor and wireless radios.

If your router has a reset button, hold it down for a few seconds. If not, restart it by removing the cable from the power socket, waiting half a minute and then plugging it in again.

If that doesn’t work, check to make sure the router firmware is up to date. Look for the update option under “System” in router software you have installed on your computer. Only download router firmware updates from the manufacturer’s website.

You may also find that resetting and reinstalling your router software may do the trick. For most routers, this is accomplished by holding down the reset button and then reinstalling the software.

2. Turn off Eco mode

Some routers have a power-saving or Eco mode that’s on by default. Eco mode can slow down your Wi-Fi and the actual power savings are minimal. In your router’s settings, look for Eco mode or power-saving mode and turn it off. Also, check to see if your router has an Automatic transmission setting and make sure it’s at 100 percent.

3. Move the router

Most good routers have antennas that try to provide a symmetrical ‘donut‘ of Wi-Fi coverage, so when possible, place the router in an open space centrally located in your house, equidistant from its farthest locations.

Place the router up high to help avoid obstructions.

The materials surrounding the router matter as well. Metal interferes with Wi-Fi signals, while wood does not. Positioning the router’s antenna vertically rather than horizontally also increases signal strength.

4. Check to see if other family members are streaming

Intensive activities like streaming HD video or file sharing can take its toll on Internet speed. Routers can support hundreds of devices connecting, but it’s more about what each device is doing online. For example, if everyone is watching Netflix at the same time, this can cause an overall slowdown.

Distance from the router is important as well. If four people are streaming video but they’re all close to the router, you may not experience any slowdowns. So if everyone simply must watch Netflix or play Fortnite separately and simultaneously, try to move the devices closer to the router with as little wall or floor obstructing the path as possible.

5. Check if your ISP is having a hard time keeping up

Another bottleneck is the speed of the service coming from your service provider. A lot of ISPs oversubscribe, so you can feel the lag in the afternoon when everyone gets home.

Test your connection by running a speed test from a site such as SpeedTest.net at different times during the day (There can be confusing ads on this page, so don’t click on anything but the big “Go” button). You don’t want it to fluctuate too much over the course of a day. The speed should always be at least 80 to 90 percent of what your service provider promises. If that’s the case but you’re still not satisfied …

6. Run a ping test

While a speed test gauges the speed possible based on available bandwidth from the service provider, a ping test gauges latency, which is the delay in communication between your computer (or phone) and a particular website on the Internet. It can tell you how good the quality of your Internet connection is.

Head back to SpeedTest.net, where you’ll receive a ping figure measured in milliseconds. In general, lower numbers are better, but anything under 50 is considered good and under 100 is average.

7. Check to see if you’re on an overcrowded channel

Slow Wi-Fi speeds may be the result of interference from your neighbors’ Wi-Fi networks as all the devices compete to use the same channel.

All routers support the 2.4Ghz frequency, which distributes traffic among a handful of channels. Dual-band and tri-band routers also support 5GHz frequency, which contains even more channels. That frequency tends to be less congested and therefore usually allows faster connections. And with tri-band routers, you get two separate data streams, which can help if two devices are accessing the router on the 5GHz frequency simultaneously.

You may be able to increase your speed by switching to a less busy channel. Download a wireless channel analyzer app such as Wifi Analyzer for Android (no equivalent for non-jailbroken iPhones) or a desktop program such as NirSoft’s Wi-FiInfoView for Windows. Macs have the tool built in; hit Option and tap the wireless icon in your top toolbar, then click Open Network Diagnostics. Open the menu and select Utilities. Select the Wi-Fi Scan tab and choose Scan Now. You’ll see the best 2.4 and 5GHz channels.  These programs show each channel on each Wi-Fi frequency and which ones nearby networks are using.

8. Switch to a different channel

If you discover you’re on an especially crowded channel, you can manually change it. Type your router’s IP address into your web browser. (The IP address is usually on the back of the router, or you can google your router’s model.) You’ll be prompted to enter your username and password, after which you can click through to Wi-Fi settings and select the channel recommended by your Wi-Fi analyzer program.

Check for interference from a nearby cordless device

Baby monitors, older cordless phones, microwave ovens and wireless speakers are just some of the common household gadgets that also use the 2.4Ghz frequency. These can interfere with the wireless signal from your router.

Deal with the conflict by moving the router away from these devices and ensuring that no devices that could potentially interfere lie in a straight line between your router and the gadget you’re trying to get online with.

Stokes, Natasha. “How to Get Better Wi-Fi” Techlicious, Internet & Networking, Tips & How To’s, May 1, 2018

Posted in: IoT, IT Support, Mobile Computing, Networking, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

Leave a Comment (0) →

You’ve Been Charging Your Smartphone Wrong

Yes, we know. Our smartphone batteries are bad because they barely last a day.

But it’s partially our fault because we’ve been charging them wrong this whole time.

Many of us have an ingrained notion that charging our smartphones in small bursts will cause long-term damage to their batteries, and that it’s better to charge them when they’re close to dead.

But we couldn’t be more wrong.

If fact, a site from battery company Cadex, called Battery University, details how the lithium-ion batteries in our smartphones are sensitive to their own versions of “stress.” And, like for humans, extended stress could be damaging your smartphone battery’s long-term lifespan.

If you want to keep your smartphone battery in top condition and go about your day without worrying about battery life, you need to change a few things.

Don’t keep it plugged in when it’s fully charged

According to Battery University, leaving your phone plugged in when it’s fully charged, like you might overnight, is bad for the battery in the long run.

Once your smartphone has reached 100% charge, it gets “trickle charges” to keep it at 100% while plugged in. It keeps the battery in a high-stress, high-tension state, which wears down the chemistry within.

Battery University goes into a bunch of scientific detail explaining why, but it also sums it up nicely: “When fully charged, remove the battery” from its charging device. “This is like relaxing the muscles after strenuous exercise.” You too would be pretty miserable if you worked out nonstop for hours and hours.

In fact, try not to charge it to 100%

At least when you don’t have to.

According to Battery University, “Li-ion does not need to be fully charged, nor is it desirable to do so. In fact, it is better not to fully charge, because a high voltage stresses the battery” and wears it away in the long run.

That might seem counter-intuitive if you’re trying to keep your smartphone charged all day, but just plug it in whenever you can during the day, and you’ll be fine.

Plug in your phone whenever you can

It turns out that the batteries in our smartphones are much happier if you charge them occasionally throughout the day instead of plugging them in for a big charging session when they’re empty.

Charging your phone when it loses 10% of its charge would be the best-case scenario, according to Battery University. Obviously, that’s not practical for most people, so just plug in your smartphone whenever you can. It’s fine to plug and unplug it multiple times a day.

Not only does this keep your smartphone’s battery performing optimally for longer, but it also keeps it topped up throughout the day.

Plus, periodic top-ups also let you use features you might not normally use because they hog your battery life, like location-based features that use your smartphone’s GPS antenna.

Keep it cool

Smartphone batteries are so sensitive to heat that Apple itself suggests you remove certain cases that insulate heat from your iPhone when you charge it. “If you notice that your device gets hot when you charge it, take it out of its case first.” If you’re out in the hot sun, keep your phone covered. It’ll protect your battery’s health.

Villas-Boas,Antonio. “You’ve Been Charging Your Smartphone Wrong”. Business Insider July 2016

Posted in: Mobile Computing, Technology

Leave a Comment (0) →

9 Android tricks you didn’t know about

25785775955_b1932f94f5_oWhether you’re an Apple or Android fanatic, your phone has more capabilities than you’re aware of.

Thankfully, Google recently debuted a new website dedicated to sharing the tips and tricks available at the fingertips of every Android user.

We pulled a few of our favorite tips to share with you:

  1. Guest Mode: Because, really, who wants someone else to see their private texts or emails?10-guest-mode-because-really-who-wants-someone-else-to-see-their-private-texts-or-emails
  2. You know how in Facebook Messenger your top contacts pop up as little circles directly under your most recent conversations? Google provides a similarly easy-to-scroll-through option for Google appAndroid 9.
  3. Do you enjoy creating your own likeness through Bitmoji on Snapchat? Well, now you can build your own Android likeness with Androidify.Android 8.
  4. It looks like Google is trying to compete with iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat with this feature that allows you to ‘animate’ your photos.Android 7
  5. Talk to your calendar: There’s no denying the power of Google Calendar. Using voice might be the way for some people to take advantage of the world of digital scheduling.Android 6
  6. You can instantly see the location of your Android phone if you just type ‘find my phone’ into Google.Android 5
  7. This is both a great privacy and parenting feature.Android 4
  8. This is essential to maintaining a sense of independence if you are traveling in a foreign country with little to no language skills.Android 3
  9. For all of your Amazon deliveries.Android 2
  1. Everyone needs this.Android 1

Bambenek, Cadence. Business Insider, “9 Android tricks you didn’t know about” August 2016

Posted in: Mobile Computing, Technology

Leave a Comment (0) →

All the Coolest Features of Windows 10’s Anniversary Update

Windows.Microsoft’s first big feature update for Windows 10, the Anniversary Update, is out today. With it comes a smarter Cortana, better multiple desktop tools, and tweaks that fix annoyances we’ve hated since Windows 10 launched.

Cortana Is Way Smarter, and Can Talk to Android and Windows Phone

Cortana on Windows 10 is already pretty useful. You can check your schedule, get answers to simple, spoken questions, find and keep your notes, set reminders, and more. Now it’s getting even smarter. For example, if you add an event to your calendar that conflicts with another scheduled event, Cortana will let you know that you’re about to double-book yourself. Cortana can also interact with other apps to make reservations, or send the document you were recently working on to someone in your contact list.

Cortana can also bridge the gap between your phone and PC, much like Pushbullet before it. With today’s update, It can mirror your Android system notifications to your computer, so you’ll see missed calls, incoming messages, and low battery notifications right on your desktop. You can also mirror notifications from any other app you want. You’ll can find instructions on how to get Cortana set up here.

Cortana on the desktop can also talk to your phone. For example, if you search for “Directions to [place],” Cortana will send the directions to your map of choice on your Android device. You can say (or type) “Find my phone” to locate your phone on a map. You can even ring it remotely right from your desktop. Microsoft plans to add more commands over time, so keep an eye on this feature in the future.

Managing Multiple Desktops Is Now Even Easier

Windows 10 made managing multiple desktops much easier and more straightforward than it was in Windows 7. It was one of the most underrated and overdue features of Windows 10. Now, it’s getting even better. The Task View interface, which you call up by pressing Win+Tab, now gives you a few more useful options. You can right-click a window to move it to another desktop (previously you could only drag windows from one desktop to another). You can also use the Task View to snap windows to the left and right side of the screen.

Best of all, you can now pin windows so they appear on all desktops. This is extremely handy for things like messaging or chat apps. While virtual desktops are great for separating workspaces, they can get in the way when there are certain apps you need in every context.

Your Calendar Is Now Integrated With the Taskbar

Microsoft’s Calendar app is one of the best Windows 10 universal apps out there, and one of the few worth using. In the Anniversary Update, it’s getting integrated with the system calendar in the taskbar. If you click the time and date in the lower-right corner of your screen, you’ll see a month view of a calendar like normal. Below that, however, you’ll see an agenda of all your events for the day.

You can also add events to your calendar from this panel. Click the plus sign at the top of the Agenda view and the Calendar app will open. Add an event name, time, and location. You can also choose one of your synced calendars from, say Google calendar, to add events to from this same panel. If you don’t care about the Agenda view, you can minimize it from the taskbar calendar panel.

You Can Customize the Action Center With Notifications and Settings You Really Need

Windows 10’s Action Center (activated by pressing Win+A) is a pretty awesome tool that doesn’t quite get the love it deserves. Microsoft’s notification overlays can be a bit of a mess, and having all of your notifications in one organized place is a godsend. This panel already has Quick Actions to jump to Settings or activate features like Quiet Hours. Now you can customize which Quick Actions appear in the Action Center, so the ones you actually use are the ones displayed.

To customize Quick Actions, head to Settings > System > Notifications and Actions. At the top of the window you’ll see an array of Quick Action tiles. You can click and drag to rearrange them, or click “Add or remove quick actions” to disable any you don’t need.

You also have finer control over how notifications show up in the Action Center. Scroll down on the same screen and you’ll find a list of apps. Click an app and you can adjust its priority (in order, Top, High, and Normal) to determine where it will be positioned in the notification list. You can also customize how many messages each app is allowed to show at once in the Action Center. If you want to tweak how an app delivers notifications, this is the place to do it.

Set “Active Hours” to Keep Windows Update From Interrupting Your Work

Microsoft has been infuriatingly stubborn about when updates are applied over the years, sometimes forcing you to interrupt your work to do so. With Windows 10’s Anniversary update, you can set Active Hours, a timeframe of up to 12 hours, during which Windows will never apply automatic updates. Outside of these hours, Windows will still detect whether you’re using your computer before updating.

This should go a long way towards fixing the problem of Windows updates installing right when you sit down to work in the morning, or being nagged to reboot to finish installing updates while you’re trying to work. Now you can protect your productive hours. This doesn’t necessarily mean Microsoft will be less pushy with nag screens, but at least it won’t ruin your workday.

The New Dark Theme Makes Windows 10 Apps Easier On Your Eyes

In the past, if you wanted something easier on your eyes than a screen full of blinding white apps, you could edit the registry in Windows 10 to enable a hidden dark theme. After you’ve installed the Anniversary Update, it’s a simple settings switch:

Open the Settings app.

Click Personalization.

Select Colors from the left-side navigation panel.

Scroll down to “Choose your app mode.”

Select “Dark.”

The change should take effect immediately. You’ll now see the dark theme on any app that supports it. In my experience this only seemed to work on Windows 10’s built-in apps like Settings, Calculator, and Calendar. Other apps like Dropbox, VLC, Wunderlist, and even Microsoft’s own OneNote were unaffected, but that’s likely because they haven’t been updated to support the new theme yet.

Power Users Have the Bash Shell of Their Dreams Built Into Windows

If you’ve ever used any Unix-based operating system, you’re probably aware that Windows’ command line is much different than the command line anywhere else. The Anniversary Update releases you from your terminal prison. Now you can install the Bash shell.

The Bash shell comes from a joint effort between Microsoft and Ubuntu developer Canonical. It supports the full range of commands you’re used to and you can create and run Bash scripts within the app that run natively in Windows. You can even use apt-get to download binaries. You won’t be able to use any of those tools in other command line environments like the normal DOS-style interface, nor can they interact with other Windows apps, but it’s better than nothing. If you’re not familiar with all the things you can do in a Bash-style command line, check out our primer here.

Microsoft’s Edge Browser Finally Gets Extensions, On Demand Flash, and More

Microsoft is trying desperately to get back in the browser game. Windows 10 brought the brand new Edge browser, completely rebuilt from the ground up after burning down Internet Explorer. While it’s had a promising start, it was still missing some key promised features like extensions. In the Anniversary update, that finally gets fixed. Sort of.

For starters, Microsoft Edge finally has extensions! A whopping…thirteen of them. While they include a few highly desirable extensions like Adblock Plus and Evernote’s web clipper, it’s a pretty meager selection. Microsoft has promised that developers will be able to easily port their Chrome extensions to Edge, but we’ll need to wait and see how many actually do it.

Edge is also finally getting the coveted click-to-play Flash feature that Firefox and Chrome users have grown used to. The browser should automatically detect what content is important and play things like videos, while blocking ads and junk plugins. If you want to play a particular piece of Flash content anyway, you can click each one individually to make it work.

Power users who like pinned tabs should also feel a bit more at home. You can now pin certain tabs in Edge so they’ll take up less space in the tab bar. They’ll also all come back when you restart the browser, even if you choose “Close all tabs” when you quit Edge.

Finally, Microsoft has also added support for web notifications. Some sites now ask if they can push notifications directly to your desktop when you first visit the site. Edge will show a dialog box at the bottom of the screen asking if you’d like to accept web notifications. When you do, they’ll appear in the notification center built right into Windows.

Smart Unlock Logs You In to Your Computer With Your Phone or Wearable Device

With the new update, Microsoft is adding new ways to unlock your PC with what it’s calling “companion devices.” These include Windows or Android phones, but it also extends to wearables like Microsoft’s own fitness tracker. You can use these devices to verify that you are who you say you are and bypass a password or PIN. Here are some of the ways you’ll be able to log in with these devices:

Plug in your companion device via USB: Certain devices like fitness trackers can unlock your phone simply by plugging them into your PC and tapping a button on the companion device.

Pair your smartphone with your PC via Bluetooth: When you dismiss the lock screen on your computer, a notification will appear on your phone asking if you want to unlock it. Simply approve it and you’re in.

Unlock your computer with an NFC tap: If you have an NFC reader in your computer, you can tap an approved companion device like a phone to your reader to unlock your PC.

Use gestures with supported wearables: Microsoft’s guidelines suggest that some wearable developers could let users unlock their PC by clapping while wearing a device like a fitness band that they have authorized on their computer.

Keep in mind that all of these are hypothetical use cases that Microsoft supports in its Windows Unlock guidelines, but there’s no guarantee that your specific device will work with it. If you’re interested in a simpler way to unlock your computer, you may want to consider adding a Bluetooth dongle or NFC adapter if your computer doesn’t already support either technology.

Ravenscraft, Eric. Lifehacker, “All the Coolest Features of Windows 10’s Anniversary Update” August 2016

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

Leave a Comment (0) →

5 Android Shortcuts You’ll Wish You Knew all Along

Whether you’re just getting started with Android, or a seasoned user, these are the five shortcuts you should be using right now.

Bypass unlocking your phone (when it’s safe)
This feature in the Lock screen and Security menu will let your device know when it’s safe to stay conveniently unlocked.  Once you add trusted places, devices, or voices you can skip the PIN, pattern or password every time you want to check an alert. For more info on how to set this up, check out this post.

Reject calls with a text
Make your phone work like a personal secretary by letting callers know why you can’t answer, and (hopefully) avoiding follow-up calls. On most phones, this option is available in the Phone app > Settings, and labeled Call blocking, Quick responses, or something similar. You’ll see the call-reject messages that you can edit with your own writing style.

Quickly open the camera
Launching the camera at a moment’s notice means that you won’t miss great photo opportunities. How you access this camera shortcut will vary between manufacturers, but here’s a few examples of popular devices that have it enabled:

  • Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P: double-tap power button.
  • Samsung devices 2015-2016: double-tap the physical Home button.
  • LG V10: double-tap the volume down button.
  • Moto G 2015: twist your wrist with the device in hand.

Add contact widgets
Want to reach out to your favorite people with just a tap? Press and hold on your Home screen, choose Widgets, and then look for the Contacts 1×1 widget. Tapping this shortcut loads a contact’s details, letting you call, text, or email without scrolling through your address book.

Enable ‘OK, Google’ everywhere
Ask your burning questions right now by enabling “OK, Google” everywhere — meaning from any screen. To get set up, open the Google (search) app and head to Settings > Voice > “Ok Google” Detection > toggle the From any screen option on. Say the magic words three times and you’re set. As a bonus, this little exercise will let you use the trusted voice option in Smart Lock.

Cozma, Nicole CNET, Mobile, “5 Android shortcuts you’ll wish you knew all along” April 2016

Posted in: Mobile Computing, MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

Leave a Comment (0) →

Is Single Sign-on Right For Your Business?

When your workers log onto their computers, do they automatically, by entering one password and login name, gain access to all of your business’ software systems? Does their single login allow them to access the company’s Intranet, their e-mail systems and your company’s sales data? If so, your company’s software systems operate under a single sign-on system.

Different versions

There are several versions of single sign-on systems. Under a Kerberos-based system, workers must supply their login names and passwords when signing onto their computers. After this, they get a Kerberos ticket that gives them access to email clients, editing software and other systems. This happens because the Kerberos ticket supplies the user’s credentials to each new system that the user tries to access. This prevents workers from having to re-enter their passwords and login names each time.

Benefits

The main benefit of single sign-on is that workers don’t have to constantly enter passwords and logins every time they need to access a new software system. Not only does this prevent password fatigue for your company’s employees, it also saves time. Employees don’t have to stop working to enter their passwords throughout the day. Single sign-on might also save your company IT costs; your IT department won’t be swamped with as many calls from employees struggling to remember their passwords and login names throughout the day.

Cons

Of course, there is some risk to single sign-on. A hacker can gain access to your company’s software systems more easily if you rely on single sign-on. This is why it’s important for your company to tie single sign-on to authentication methods such as smart cards or one-time password tokens. As with all forms of electronic security, then, single sign-on isn’t perfect. You’ll have to take a close look at your company to determine whether this system is right for your business and your employees.

Posted in: Business, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

Leave a Comment (0) →

Adding Comments to Excel Can Boost Your Productivity

Have you ever re-opened one of your Excel spreadsheets only to find that you’ve forgotten what half the formulas in it stand for? Have you ever opened a spreadsheet only to find yourself asking, “What, exactly, was I up to here?” Well, you can prevent this from happening by adding comments directly to the formula cell in a spreadsheet.

Jogging your memory

The tech Web site Lifehacker explains how to do this. You’ll simply have to access Excel’s N() function. To use this function, add a plus sign after your formula. You can then write out your comment in quotes inside the function.

Why do it

Now, whenever you click on that cell, both your formula and your comment will appear. Doing this can save you plenty of time when poring over a half-finished Excel spreadsheet. You won’t have to wrack your brain trying to remember what you were trying to accomplish.

This function is available in Excel 2013 and earlier versions. If you have Excel don’t be shy about using it. You might be surprised at how much more productive you can be.

Posted in: Business, MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

Leave a Comment (0) →

Not using Word 2013? You’re missing out

Have you been debating whether it’s time to upgrade to Word 2013? PC World says it’s time to stop dithering. The new version of Word is packed with features that can make you and your employees more productive than ever. Maybe you like that current version of Word that you’re using. That’s fine. But before you decide to stick with it, consider these nifty new features that come with Word 2013.

A better design tab

The first reason to upgrade to Word 2013? PC World points to the program’s new and improved design tab. Word 2013 lets users choose from a wide variety of themes, colors and fonts. And if you find a certain combination that you’d like to use all the time, you can click the “Set as Default” option to return these themes every time you create a new document. Microsoft Word 2013 also allows users to preview a document style before they apply it to the entire document.

A better reading experience

Maybe you use Word more often to read documents than to create them. If so, Word 2013 comes with a new Read feature that makes reading Word documents more pleasant than ever. First, the Read feature automatically resizes Word documents so that they fill your entire screen. Secondly, Read provides on-screen arrows that let you flip through pages or swipe the screen from either edge of the display if you’re using a touch-screen monitor. You can also click on images, charts or tables in Read mode to make them bigger, and easier to read.

PDF Viewing

Word 2013 makes editing and reading PDF documents an easier task, too. First, Word 2013 can open any PDF document. But that’s just the beginning. The program also allows you to edit PDF documents without bringing in a third-party application. According to PC World, you can also move images around a PDF document and edit any information contained in a table. For anyone who works with PDFs often, this is an amazing new feature.

Posted in: Business, MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

Leave a Comment (0) →

Guilty of These Bad Tech Habits?

No one is perfect. We all have bad habits. Some of us smoke. Some eat in our cars. Some write e-mail messages in all capital letters. Here’s the good news, though. When it comes to technology, it’s relatively simple to identify our bad habits and break them. PCWorld magazine recently ran a list of the most common bad tech habits. Took a look at these tech mistakes. Do you suffer from any of these bad tech habits?

Easy Target

Some of the worst tech bad habits identified by PCWorld make you an easy target for thieves. For instance, do you ever leave your smart phones or tablets sitting at your booth in the coffee shop while you run back to the counter to get another shortbread cookie? Leaving your devices unattended and in plain sight can make it easy for criminals to quickly snatch them and disappear. Or what if you spend all your waking minutes staring at your smart phone screen without taking notice of your surroundings? This bad tech habit can hurt, too. While you’re staring at your screen, you don’t notice that suspicious guy walking close to you. Before you know it, the guy’s popped you in the face, grabbed your smart phone and run away.

Hurting Your Health

Bad tech habits can damage your health, too. Maybe you sit all day hunched in front your computer. This bad posture can lead to serious back pain. It can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome. The solution here? Sit up straight, take frequent computing breaks and purchase a comfortable chair that places less strain on your back. Speaking of breaks, another bad tech habit is not taking any. As PCWorld says, your can hurt your eyes, strain your back and blur your thought processes if you insist on spending the entire work day focusing on your computer screen. Remember to take regular breaks to keep yourself healthy.

Oops

What happens if your computer suffers a sudden hard-drive crash? Will you lose your important files? If you suffer from the bad tech habit of not backing up your files, you probably will. And do you reuse the same passwords frequently at several different Web sites? This tech habit can open you to a world of pain should someone crack that go-to password. Now, instead of gaining access to your personal information on one site, this cyber criminal can gain access to it on several. Finally, do you ignore the updates that publishers create for the software that you most frequently use? Don’t. Ignoring these updates can leave you vulnerable to hacks and keep you from fully enjoying your software.

Posted in: Business, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

Leave a Comment (0) →

Want to Boost Your Productivity? Try Dictation Apps

Want to be more productive in the office? Want to get those reports written as quickly as possible?

Or maybe you’re a writer, and you can’t seem to type as fast as you can think.

Dictation tools can help.

As the name suggests, dictation tools allow you to speak what you want to write. The tools then put your words on your computer screen. Best of all? Dictation tools have improved immensely. You won’t struggle to get them to recognize the words you are saying.

Boosting productivity

Mashable recently ran an interesting post about just how much more productive workers can be with dictation tools such as Dragon Naturally Speaking and Windows Speech Recognition.

The Mashable story includes an infographic from the blog Accounting Degree showing that the average worker spends about four hours every day writing email messages and other forms of communication. The infographic also says that the average typing speed is just 33 words a minute, or about one word every two seconds.

But dictation tools? They can record an incredible 100 words a minute. As the infographic clearly spells out, the tongue is quicker—far quicker, actually—than the fingers.

Think, then, how quickly you’ll be able to send email messages, write memos and summarize reports with dictation tools.

The dictation tools

PC Mag understands this. The publication recently ranked Dragon Dictation as one of the best business apps for the iPad.

And why not? The app boasts accurate voice transcription and the ability to share messages through email, Facebook and Twitter.

Here are some other dictation apps, ranked by the ZeroPaid tech blog that you should investigate.

Dragon Dictation is a free app that lets you translate your speech into documents or email messages. The app also provides direct links to Facebook and Twitter, meaning that you can record verbal updates that will then appear on these social media sites as text. There is a downside to the app, though; as ZeroPaid says, you’ll need to be connected to the Internet to use it.

Voice Dictation, which costs 99 cents, is another app that ZeroPaid recommends. This app includes automatic grammar correction, a nice feature if you are dictating work-related documents.

Google Translate, which is free, not only turns your spoken words into text, it also translates them into whatever language you prefer. Be careful, though—ZeroPaid says that this app works best with short phrases and individual words. If you try working with longer, complex sentences, you might end up with odd translations.

Dictamus isn’t cheap, costing $14.99. But ZeroPaid says that is one of the highest-rated dictation apps in the App Store. If you want to make sure that this app is for you, you can download Dictamus Free. This version doesn’t cost you anything, but has limited functionality. It will, though, give you a good idea of how the app works and whether it is one you want to invest in.

Making voice dictation work

There are some tricks that you’ll have to master no matter which type of voice-dictation software in which you invest.

For instance, you’ll need to speak slowly and clearly. If you mumble, speak too rapidly or run your words together, you’ll end up with odd translations on the page. This will negate the efficiency you’re shooting for by installing dictation tools on your computer or mobile device in the first place.

Secondly, you’ll need to insert your own commas, exclamation marks, questions marks and other punctuation as you speak. For example, you might have to say, “John comma our first vice president comma completed the sales reports yesterday period the news was great exclamation point.”

That sounds weird but with a bit of practice you will get the hang of it.

Learn more:

Posted in: Business, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 3 123