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Our Top 10 Smartphone Features To Consider

Smartphones are a hot item across the world today. Consumers and business users globally are buying more smartphones than ever. And the vendors behind those devices are, in most cases, watching their revenue and profits soar. However, not all devices are created equal. Smartphones like Apple’s iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus are definitely favorites, with phones from Research In Motion and HTC taking a backseat. Regardless of their similarities to these popular phones, devices like the BlackBerry Bold just can’t keep up. Here are our top 10 smartphone features that every supplier should include with their devices if they want to stay competitive.

Bigger Displays
Better Displays
Reliable OS Version
Multi-Carrier Support
Touch Screen
Say No to Physical Keyboards
Ample Storage

Professionalism in Emails

Do you have trouble getting responses to emails you send? Are there some people with whom you need to communicate on a regular basis who not only don’t answer your email, but also are seldom available to take your phone calls?

Before you chalk up the lack of communication to other’s bad work habits or rudeness, take a close look at your own communication style. It’s possible that those who never seem to answer you aren’t careless, forgetful, or rude. They may be just trying to avoid you.

The problem could be the way you communicate in email. You see, the effect of what you say in email often looks and “sounds” different to the recipient than it would if you were talking to them in person. If the email messages you send seem patronizing, insignificant, or petty, you’ll find it difficult to get responses in a timely fashion or at all.

It is important that whether the email is for business or personal use that you follow the basics of email etiquette. By doing so, you will be a pleasure to communicate with while being perceived as caring and intelligent.

Here are some of the most aggravating email mistakes to avoid.
1) Marking emails you send out with an exclamation point to indicate high importance for routine matters.

Of course, you want people to read email you send, and yes you think the matter is important. But marking everything as high importance is going to have the opposite effect. Those who frequently receive email from you marked with an exclamation point will start ignoring it – and eventually will get annoyed with you for sending so many emails marked high importance.

2) Demanding immediate response when it’s not necessary.

Again, just because something is important to you doesn’t mean that others should drop what they’re doing to answer your question or do what you want done. They also have priorities. Not only will they get mad at you, but if requests aren’t truly urgent, they’ll soon be ignored – just like the fabled boy who cried “Wolf!” If the matter you’re discussing in the email isn’t truly urgent (i.e., no one is going to suffer any harm or damage if whatever you want done isn’t handled the same day), then don’t ask for immediate action. And, if something really does need to be handled right away, explain why.

3) Responding to someone else with a one-liner without including important details.

“Call me,” or “We need to reschedule” may work when you’re talking in person about a project. However, if that’s all you put in an email, the recipient may need to dig through other email to find out why you wanted them to call you or what needs to be rescheduled.

4) Including too much detail.

If you send a team member an email request to pull together a report on the team progress or do some other task, tell them what you want done and when you need it by. Don’t include a lot of detail about why it’s important or how you expect them to pay attention to all the details and format the report the way they were taught. If it’s a task they know how to do, state the task and the deadline in a sentence or two.

5) Copying the boss — especially when the issue is minor.

If you and a team member or anyone else you have to interact with has a minor difference of opinion, work it out between the two of you without including the boss on your emails. Say you see someone has made an insignificant mistake and want it corrected. Contact the person privately with a friendly note. (For instance, “Hi John, I just saw a typo on the company’s website. I thought you’d want to know about it so you can have it corrected.”) Don’t copy the boss. The boss doesn’t need to know that John White made a minor typo on the company’s website and you found it. Remember, copying the boss makes you look like a tattletale. And no one likes a tattletale.

6) Changing the subject line when replying to an email.

A lot of people use the subject line of emails to determine if and when to open and read the mail. If you and one or more other people are having an ongoing conversation about a project, and the subject doesn’t change, don’t change the subject line in the email. The people you want to read your response, may miss it, or may not be able to find it in the future to refer to it if you change the subject line.

7) Not changing the subject line for new topics of discussion.

You and Dave have been discussing the best way to set up your podcast. All the messages have the same subject line. While you’re reading Dave’s last response, you remember that you wanted to ask him to find a commercial artist who can design a flier for your next seminar. Don’t hit reply (to the podcast emails) to tell Dave to find the artist. Start a new email with a new subject line and send that to Dave so he can keep the issues separate in his email.

If you keep the tips above in mind, remember that email recipients aren’t necessarily thinking about the same things you are at the time they get your email, and remember to say “Please” and “Thank You” often, you’ll find more of your email will get prompt replies and more of the things you need done, will get done quickly.

Check Out Library Books on Your Kindle for Free

Thousands of libraries across the US offer digital lending for Kindle devices. The following information is how you can enjoy the benefits of free library books on your Kindle. Just like you can check out physical books from your local library, at over 11,000 public libraries you can also check out ebooks for your Kindle. It’s simple, free, and there’s no risk of late fees since the digital books simply expire the day they are due.

What You Need To Get Started

You don’t need much to check out ebooks from your local library, but you will need to check off the following things before we proceed.

First, you need either a Kindle or Kindle app. You can use a physical Kindle device, the Kindle reading app (iPhone or Android), or the Kindle Cloud Reader. Currently any device or application that you could send a Kindle book purchase to will also support library lending.

Second, you need to check if your local library supports Kindle lending. The Kindle lending system is built around the OverDrive media distribution network. Simply visit the OverDrive website, select “Library Search” and check to see if your local library is participating. Don’t be confused if the OverDrive search engine shows your local library but the link leads to a site you don’t normally visit—many libraries belong to media collaboratives that service more than one library.

Finally, if you’re using a physical Kindle, you’ll need access to a Wi-Fi node or a computer you can load the books from over the USB tether. Unlike books purchased through Amazon, public library books are not delivered via your Kindle 3G connection. If you’re ready with your Kindle and a library card, it’s time to proceed!

Finding Ebooks At Your Local Library

While each library web page will look a little different and each library will have varying selections of books, the basic work flow is the same. We’re going to walk you through checking out a book from your local library.

Once you’ve established that your local library offers books through OverDrive, it’s time to visit the library’s media web site to browse the selections and pick out a book. Remember in the previous section when you searched for your library and it gave you a link? Even if that link isn’t the normal link you follow to visit your library, you’ll end up there eventually anyway. Follow the link provided and look for a login link. You’ll need your library card number and/or a PIN.

Once logged in, look for a search tool. We recommend jumping right to the advanced search, when possible. Make sure to select “Kindle” as your format. You’ll likely also see an option to search only available books; unchecked this if you want to see if the book is even part of the system.

Success! Now add it to your book bag, click through the book bag and hit checkout. Again, the workflow through your library may not be identical, but it should be pretty close.

Once you check out of the specific OverDrive library system you’re in, the system will kick you over to If you’re not already logged in, it’ll prompt you to do so. When you’re logged into Amazon, you’ll see a listing for the book with the typical Amazon ratings as well as a note about the due date. You’ll also see the typical Amazon purchase box, except instead of the price and purchase button it will say “Get library book”. Make sure to pick the Kindle device you want the send it to, and then click the button.

Upon clicking “Get library book”, you’ll see one last screen. This screen will remind you to make sure your Kindle can connect to Wi-Fi and give you a download link in case you want/need to download the book and transfer it to your computer via USB. You will only need USB if you don’t have access to a Wi-Fi node or you’re checking out a book where the publisher restricts Wi-Fi transfers.

At this point you can visit your Kindle Management page and you’ll see the library book. If you click on the “Actions” button on the far right side of the entry for the library book you’ll see a variety of options. You can read it, deliver it to a different Kindle device or app, purchase it, download it if you need to transfer it via USB, wipe the internal bookmark, or return it if you no longer need it.

Even if you return a book, any notes or highlighting in the book is saved by Amazon and will be restored if you check the book out again or purchase it. You can return the book early to allow other patrons to enjoy it, but even if you forgot about the book, it will automatically expire/return itself at the end of the lending window.

That’s all there is to it!

Considering Getting Into the World of IT?

The world of IT isn’t all fun and games. And anyone who has ever worked in IT knows just how tough it is out there. If you are not completely up for the challenge, there will always be someone else who is. So for anyone considering getting into the world of IT, or for those considering getting out of IT; how do you know whether you are really cut out for the career that chews up and spits out its young? Here are some signs that maybe IT isn’t the best fit for you.

1: Patience
The saying goes that patience is a virtue, and I can think of no other field that this is truer. Typically, when problems strike, they strike with a vengeance and more than often call for a good deal of time to resolve. Whether it’s a printer not communicating or an attack on a server, nothing goes as it should. Another need for patience isn’t dealing with the equipment; however, the end user instead. Many times, end users will test your patience more than the technology will. If that’s the case, and you don’t have patience, I recommend that you either get away from having to deal with end users or (if that’s not an option), leave IT immediately.

2: People
The reason IT pros have jobs is to support end users — aka people. If you don’t like people, you really shouldn’t consider a career in IT. There will always be an end user. Whether it’s an end user that is extremely helpful or the one that will test you every time, there will be an end user that requires interaction.

3: Continuing Education
Technology is constantly evolving; therefore, the IT field is ever-evolving. If you do not desire to continue learning, you and the education you have will always be behind the curve. You must be okay with constantly learning something new. Whether it might means taking a class or attending a workshop or just hitting the books on your own, you must constantly learn more to keep up.

4: 9:00 to 5:00
Systems go down whenever they want and don’t adhere to a set schedule. So you must be willing to wake up in the middle of the night, work long hours during the week, and work weekends. Not everyone has that work ethic and if you’re someone who doesn’t let your work interfere with your personal life, then don’t look here. The 9-to-5 job exists for the end user not for the IT pro that supports it.

5: ‘Til the bitter end
How often do you have an issue that really tests your abilities? How did you handle the issue? Did you give up? Or did you drive on until you succeeded? If you gave up, then you did so knowing that you left something broken. That is not an acceptable work ethic in IT, and if you’re okay with that, it’s time to reconsider. Oh sure, there will be times when something is beyond repair or an issue goes above your skill set. But if that’s the case, it’s your responsibility to replace the broken machine or bring in someone to fix the issue.

6: Irritability
This is an industry that can frustrate even the most levelheaded. But if your blood boils to the surface right away, you will spend much of your day with high blood pressure. Although IT is a rewarding field, it can also be a trying one. If frustration often gets the best of you, you might want to consider a new career or buy stock in a therapist.

7: Multitasking
At any given point in a day, I am doing three or four things at once. Sometimes, this is the only way I can actually get everything done in the given timeframe. If you insist on sticking to one task at a time, IT is going to be a tough career for you. That is not to say single-minded people can’t succeed — but they will have a tougher time than those who can multitask.

8: Corporate Ladder Climbing
There isn’t much room on the ladder within the IT department. If you have dreams of climbing up and perching yourself on top, you might want to consider a different field. Some IT departments do offer promotions, and maybe you can even climb your way up to CIO. But if CEO is in your dreams, IT is not the field for you.

9: Anti-Technology
This one should go without saying. But strangely enough, I know people in the IT field who actually HATE technology. If you consider yourself a technophobe, maybe being around servers, desktops, switches, routers, and other IT-centric hardware might not be the best place for you. Although it’s perfectly possible to work in a field you despise, the added level of frustrations you will experience might end your time on this good green Earth earlier than you expected. Take a pass on IT.

10: On Call 24/7
This relates to your work hours. Many IT pros I work with are on call 24/7. Their lives completely revolve around their networks, and if they weren’t willing to have such a life, they probably wouldn’t have the jobs they have now. The IT job doesn’t go away — it remains in the background all the time, waiting to pull you from sleep, family gatherings, the birth of your first child. If you’re one to turn your phone off when you leave work, or even ignore those calls from the office (even when said office is blowing said phone up), it might be a good sign the that you and your career are not a good fit.

Adding it up
If you recognize quite a few of these signs, you might want to call it a career and head back to school. Just because you suffer from one of two of these traits doesn’t mean you should jump off the IT train and start flipping burgers.

You Business and Social Networking

Social Networking is the new frontier for businesses. More than likely, you are on a social network now and know the basic ins and outs of the social universe when it comes to your personal life, but what you might not know is that these networks can increase your business’s bottom line. At the very least you should know how this trend can affect you and your business.

Social Search Engines
With word-of-mouth (WOM) search engines gaining speed, businesses that are mentioned in tweets or wall post, or those that have their own page are gaining attention from more than just their followers. Take a minute and think about it, at some point you’ve probably done it already when you say something like, “Hey, can anyone recommend Sushi bar downtown?” Increasingly, people will be locating businesses through a social experience online. What does this mean to your business? Quite simply, you need to be there when they come looking or get passed over for the businesses that are there. At the very least you should secure your brand name on all the major social sites.

Social Marketing
Think of social networking like a get-together you’ve been invited to by an acquaintance. No one knows you, so you’re not going to walk around chatting on and on about your business or product. If you have the least bit of savvy, you will start by getting to know people and then maybe pass your card after a conversation that relates to your field, “Here’s my card, next time you have any real estate dealings, give me a call. I’ll take care of you.” If you go spamming your product all over the place, you will be remembered as that awkward guy that no one remembers your name and doesn’t care to. Instead, work on getting a good reputation for yourself. Everyone has information to share that is relevant to their target market. Then when someone does look into sell their house and has had good dealings with you, you get the recommendation, “Dan over there is a realtor and I really like him.”

Pass on your knowledge
When you’re networking, it’s always good to have a pertinent source of information available as often as possible. You want something that your customers like to read. It’s best if you can send them to a blog that is a part of your main website, not your social site. In your blog you can have advertisements or links that direct them to your services. It also helps to be an information miner, this is where you dig through thousands of blog posts in your niche and link the most relevant ones on your social site. People will begin to keep a close eye on your posts if they are always relevant and informative.

Always at a touch of the mouse
Your social networking can also serve as a way for your clients to receive news and updates. Let your customers on Facebook or Twitter respond fast and more importantly, publicly. It is always good PR when you are seen out in the open taking care of your clients.
You’re the Expert
Whatever you decide to do in the social world, remember to be the expert! Everyone wants to do business with the expert in their field. So don’t be afraid to share some of what you have learned. You’ll be surprised how many people want to know what you know. Information is the currency of the internet, and the more you give, the more vital you will become to your field. For instance, if you are a real estate agent, then tweet and post every idea or piece of information with your followers. Then Google begins to see you as the expert. When someone searches for information in your niche, you’ll show up first in the results because of your efforts.

Social Networks are becoming the new search engine, get involved or get left behind.

Top Ten Productivity Apps for the iPad

Over the course of its life, the iPad has proven to be one of the most productive gadgets on the market today. The iPad owes its productivity potential in large part to the huge and ever increasing number of productivity apps that were made for it. With new apps added daily, there seems to be no limit to what the iPad can do for your business.
Below we have gathered our Top Ten Productivity Apps for the iPad. We hope they will prove to serve you well.

10. Notes Plus
This is an app that is only available to iPad owners, and although you might not think that a notepad is the most difficult thing to simulate, you should try Notes Plus. First of all, you will think that you are writing on an actual notepad with the truthful looking lined paper, and it has just about the best mechanism for turning your finger drawings into words that is in any app. However, the add ons that you would not find in an analogue notepad are what set this app apart: the close up writing mode, the ability to add audio notes, vector editing, hideaway control set, and the ability to type and handwrite in the same document

9. Pages
The full featured word processor for the iPad has a completely intuitive interface with the ability for charts, tables and graphics. The app can share easily with Microsoft Word, the above mentioned Notes Plus, and the PDF document format.

8. PDF Reader Pro Edition
PDF is how the business documents of the world are shared, and the iPad app for reading them is also top notch. There are many ways to easily share the PDF format with this app, including email, iTunes, and through USB file transfer.

7. Things for iPad
This beautiful and intuitive program is an organizer’s dream, including features that allow a user to sort tasks and arrange lists into project forms. Tasks can be kept together and it is easy to sync to the desktop version.

6. Evernote
Evernote is a note taking application which modifies itself to your will. Want to take notes in audio? Evernote can do it. If you want to take notes in photos, it can do that too. The app syncs seamlessly with Macs, PCs, and the Internet.

5. Desktop Connect
This is the app to have if you like remotely controlling your desktop or laptop computer from your iPad. Whether Windows or Linux, the Desktop Connect app can control it. You can fully browse the Internet, including Flash web sites. It also automatically discovers a computer that is accessed in a network. Connecting is all that Desktop Connect does, and it does it well.

4. Papers
One of the best apps for productivity when it comes to science is Papers, which allows scientists to organize their scientific papers in your personal library and also retrieve them from anywhere on the go. There are also many wide and deep scientific databases at your disposal. These articles can also easily be shared with other iPads over Wifi.

3. iQue
iQue mimics the associative functions of the actual human brain to allow you to store and retrieve information more quickly. Even if you forget what you are looking for, this app can help you find it – it is actually better than a human brain because it literally cannot forget.

2. Deskpad Office
You can’t get tired of these post it notes, because you do not have to throw them away or remember if you have actually accomplished the task on them or not.

1. Office Squared
This is the fallback – very simply, this is Word and Excel on your iPad. There are better things than Microsoft, to be sure, but this is the standard.

Manage you Cell Phones and reduce the risk when they are lost or stolen

Have you ever lost or had a phone stolen?  What about needed help setting up email or WIFI access?

We can now monitor backup and wipe your cell phones. We can remote in help configure, backup contacts and notes and brick or wipe them if you lose control of them.  We can also track them for you.  Let us show you how.  Contact me for an overview

Storing Your Data in the Cloud…

In the 15 years that I have spent in IT industry, there have been dozens of different techniques and solutions for data backup and protection. I have experienced first-hand the difficulties associated with the most common backup systems in a (Windows) file server environment and their limitations. Now, I have had the opportunity to experience data management in a cloud-based environment and have seen how any small to medium sized business can really benefit a lot from cloud storage. It is important to understand the concept of cloud storage first in order to really get a feel of what benefits can be gained from the same. More >

Don’t Open Links in Emails

Don’t open links in emails even if they are from someone you know unless you know they sent it to you. I have been getting several emails a day from people I know and when I asked them about it they had a virus or their email had been hacked and someone else was sending them.