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Interesting Technology and Computer news

Posted & filed under Hardware, Networking Solutions, News.

PGP summer background

The seasons have changed over the past two months from a seemingly never ending winter to suddenly summer.  Over on Facebook and G+ we post an interesting article weekly and here is a roundup of Interesting Technology and Computer News for April and May;

 

We started April with a hot discussion of the virtues and pitfalls of Windows 8 and how some people still want Windows 7.  Cnet found a way to make it possible (ie not easy) and here is that article again.

Over at PGP Computers we can help you with Windows 7 or 8 and a variety of other tech tasks~

 

Next up was an internet sweeping article about cost savings through changing fonts, we even posted it here but in case you missed it, here it is.

and here is the rebuttal because nothing can be easy.   We like the thought that people are looking for ways to conserve resources, ask us about other ways we can help you decrease your overhead by outsourcing IT to us.

 

Keeping with the theme of cost reduction and conservation, earth day in late April inspired us to post the EPA’s article on how to responsibly take care of old computers.

Just a reminder, we can do that for you too.

 

Last week of April we went silly with an article on a  ‘treasure’ hunt for the lost Atari games.  I just had to follow up on this one and YES they did find them!  Read this follow up for some details but apparently they found quite a few other old games too, only took 20 years to make them cool.

 

Back to our bread and butter business; Data backup.  This is a must do for everyone; business or personal. We agree with the article;  Ask yourself – 1. What are you doing today? 2. How much downtime can you afford? 3. What is your budget?

 

Given we are all consumers of technology we posted a PSA on some things do not need to be saved for eternity in the cloud (no offence cloud). Here are some new tools to keep things temporary.

 

Mid May we revisited Windows 8 and posted an article on the features of 8.1 that as of April 2014 is available.  We can help you update your personal computer or your entire companies to 8.1 so you can enjoy all the new things.

 

Finally today we posted the 4th May article and it is out of our normal mold of personal computers, but, it might be the future of computersThe Google Car is self driving and on the test road!  It is a marvel of computer integration; sensors, mechanics, split second processing to make the best decision.  In some ways we already trust our lives to computers but this is taking it to the next step.

Follow us on Facebook or G+ for weekly updates from the world of technology, just another way that PGP is here for you.

How to save money on printing – “Think before you Print”

Posted & filed under News.

This article is making the rounds of the internet and the basis is very simple; change your font to reduce ink usage and therefore save money.

click for full article on CNN.com

 

 

This is exciting news!  However, it is not as simple as that as described by  Phinney on Fonts who dives a bit deeper into the equation

Click for Phinney’s full article – graphic credit to Phinney on Fonts

 

The lesson we can all take away is that there is savings to being mindful of what and how you print.  “Think before you Print”

Go to work or work on the go?

Posted & filed under Hardware, Networking Solutions.

Fact; the technology of business evolves.  Calculators, to fax, to computer, to internet, to smart phone, to tablet; each new game changer had early adopters but most business choose to ‘wait and see’ if the new technology would truly work for business.

 

Going mobile is the current trend in business.  Some just dip a toe in; they allow work e-mail to be linked to a personal smart phone.  Some take the plunge and issue tablets to their employees equipped with an app version of their software*.  The Apple store shocked the retail industry when they ditched the register because any and every employee in the store can sell you anything right from their phone or tablet.  There is plenty of room in between these extremes. Business need to look at the risk and rewards for mobile technology and create a policy to guide employees and protect the company.

 

Risks

There are inherent risks with any system.  The biggest risk is ignoring mobile technology!

 

1. Hackers and programs that will steal data or transactions.  This is a common fear and can be addressed in a number of ways.

– Keeping data in a cloud accessed by a phone or tablet means little or no data is actually on the device.  Using a secure link is also important.

– Creating a policy against unapproved 3rd party apps is another way to avoid malicious programs invading in the background.

 

2. Lost Device.  Putting all your eggs in one virtual basket is a known risk.  In the past flash or jump drives were used and thought ‘secure’, however, it is far easier to not notice you have lost a small drive than your phone or tablet.  According to a 2004 study 40% of employees admit to losing a flash drive and more to leaving them unattended.  Given that was 10 years ago the stats have surely changed but do you think for the better?  Again, mobile technology easily allows a device to access data in a secure location.

Use of a Mobile Device Management system (or MDM) can give additional peace of mind because a device can (often) be found and/or links to data severed if a device is lost.

 

Rewards

 Giving yourself or your workforce the ability to work anywhere, anytime, in the palm or your hand sounds too good to be true.  We discussed some risks, here are some potential rewards.

1. Increased productivity and improved competitive position.  These are the first things people think of when they hear “mobile productivity”.  The ability to buy, sell, look up, confirm, deny, enter or track an order and endless other data driven tasks can be done, instantly, at the point of interface.  The old “enter it later” method required double, if not more, work and as Six Sigma or Lean will tell us; things should be ‘touched’ a minimum number of times to avoid wasted effort or potential for error.  The ability to complete the transaction in a moment is priceless.

–          If employees do end up working after hours because of the ease of the technology that is gravy on-top of the ability to work faster and smarter during the work day.

 

2. Improve morale and Enhance work life balance.  These are winners in any business because, as we all know, a happy employee is a good employee.  Mobile devices are a nice ‘perk’ for the company and the ability to work around life is even more so.  The US government has allowed telemuting since 2010 and has reported yearly on how this has positively changed the work environment.

 

3. Attract and Retain valued employees.  For many workers these days salary is only one aspect of a position.  Work environment is often more important because few people will stay even if they are well compensated.  Mobile devices are one of the least expensive ways to entice and reward people, especially if it makes doing the job easier.  Right now a smart phone or tablets is still a perk in most industries, however, laptops used to be a perk and now they are status quo.

 

4. Emergency preparedness.  Do you have a plan for a natural disaster?  The ugly truth of business is that the world will expect you to still work even if there is a fire/flood/plague of locusts.  With mobile technology once the emergent risk is handled, business can often operate in a limited capacity (or better!) even in a disaster zone.

 

5. Savings for the business and the employee.  Last but not least, the ability to work anywhere has the potential to save money.  Depending on how mobile your business is, you might be able to eliminate a physical office or desk phones…  The US Government published this chart for agencies reporting savings in 2011-12. They also consider working from home in these numbers (that is a post for a different day) but if the US government can do it you know you can too.

 

There are more risks and rewards that can be discussed but bottom line, most customers and employees now expect an increasing level of technology.  The key to maximizing mobile technology is to create a plan, investigate and mitigate risks, and work to create a better business using the new tool.  Handing a tablet to someone will not create great change – giving them a tablet with access and ability to work anywhere AND security to do so could be a beautiful thing.

 

By Kate Luthner exclusively for PGP Computers

 

For additional information on mobile business check out https://mobileworkexchange.com/, or, call us and we can talk you through it.

*check with your software provider, many now have free and secure apps

 

Is Luck your backup system?

Posted & filed under Networking Solutions.

lucky computerAre you depending on lucky St Patrick to keep your business humming?

Back-up one step.  What does your business do?  Most businesses focus on a single product or service and spend most of their time and effort to become paramount in the industry.  Today every business, no matter what they contribute to the economy, has some dependence on a computer. Who in your company is spending their time on the logistics of computer and not on your true money-making business?

In the Twin Cities 2013 top places to work, published by Minnesota Business Magazine, there is a common theme for success; work life balance.  Technology is a tool used to make work easier. What would happen if that technology started creating more work?  The balance goes off.  Is luck all that is standing between you and an IT disaster?

Studying the top 100 business it is not unexpected to see a few managed IT companies on the list.  One reason why they are successful might be because they are offering a highly valuable service that every business needs; they take on the challenge of keeping other businesses focused on their core product, not managing their hard and software.  You want to focus on your business, not the technology behind it.

Managed IT has a broad definition and you might be surprised what falls under the umbrella.  Manufacturing, PR, Law, Distribution, or even a Technology Company could benefit from moving responsibility for some, or all, of your IT to a company purely focused on Information Technology Management.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if Managed IT would help you be prepared rather then lucky;

  • Have you ever thought that your current system seems to hinder business more than it helps?
  • Is your system truly reliable and secure?
  • You know how much money computer downtime costs you.
  • Do you have a way to insure your data is always backed up, period.
  • Is accurate inventory important to you?
  • Would you like to enable your employees to work remotely?
  • Have you hesitated expansion or growth because you don’t know if your technology can handle it?

 

If you are a small to midsize business in Central Minnesota and you want to turn technology into a power tool that can move your business forward instead of a problem that costs you time and money, then we can help!  Let your employees to do the jobs they were hired for, not waste their time on computer problems.  Managed IT Services from PGP Computers can help you achieve your goals because we will:

  • Take your specific business and budgetary needs into account ensuring you never end up paying for IT you don’t really need.
  • Keep an eye on your technology with computer support at all times so you don’t incur the high cost of network downtime and lost data due to security failures.
  • Stand our ground on every IT Consulting recommendation we make by offering you our 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.

 

 

It takes skill, hard work, smart business sense, and yes; a little luck to win in today’s business world.  Be proactive; spend some time now to prevent a problem before you spend a lot of time later fixing one.

By Kate Luthner exclusively for PGP Computers

What is Cloud Computing?

Posted & filed under Networking Solutions.

Sometimes the words the marketing professionals come up with to describe things do a great job of creating a picture but not a wonderful job telling you what a product really is. The image of a cloud in your mind may be an idealized puffy shape in a clear blue sky.  The word cloud may bring to mind other things grouped together such as a tag cloud, or in math a large set of data . Regardless of what picture the word ‘cloud’ brings to mind, cloud data storage and computing is a solid and secure product that is helping business go lean and mobile.

The term “cloud computing” most often refers to hosted services. The expensive hardware used to support the client software is housed and maintained by professionals. Client data is ‘hosted’ on these servers and a client access it via a web browser, thin client, and most recently, mobile apps. Cloud data storage has many benefits for both the client and host company. The client saves money by avoiding the acquisition of capital equipment, and, the salary of someone knowledgeable enough to operate and maintain them. Cloud systems allows the client to pay a hosting company for what they need and/or use. The hosting company uses the data usage patterns of many clients to fill servers and balance the peaks and dips in usage. Using (and improving) usage and storage algorithms developed by the pioneers of cloud computing, companies offering hosted cloud services have the ability to maximize the capacity of the servers and create value for their clients. Cloud computing tends to be more secure and reliable because Hosting is the business of the business, not just someone wearing an extra hat while doing their real job. Security and maintenance such as automatic backups and virus updates can be centrally installed and monitored making it more secure then a system that relies on each user to install and keep up security solutions on their personal computer.

Back in the early days of computer networking the same general concept was called mainframe computing; massive central computers housed the data and processing power and ‘dummy’ terminal computers would draw from that central point. Many moved away from the mainframe model when personal computers became more and more powerful. However, businesses still needed a way to share information between employees so various solutions from VPM to data centers dominated the 1990-2000’s. Pre Cloud, these early systems had flaws, the two biggest; expense and capacity – both created as many problems as they solved. Server setup and maintenance is very expensive and business had trouble funding the capital. Servers have finite capacity constraints and business usage is seldom constant. To avoid an embarrassing and costly outage servers must have capacity for spikes, but, that is as efficient as driving a bus every day because once every six months you need room for 30. Business asked for a better solution and technology created The Cloud. 

 

It may not feel contorting thinking of your data up in a cloud, out of your reach, but think of it more in terms of freedom and security. When data is in the cloud, it is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from any device that can operate the portal. This is far more freedom then data locked on a particular computer in one room of one building. When Amazon and IBM started down the path of data management using what would come to be called Cloud Technology, the business community did not know what to think. Fast forward to 2013 and there are countless multibillion dollar companies using the cloud. Today cloud computing is part of our daily language and lives as it migrates to personal use as well as business.

 

By Kate Luthner exclusively for PGP Computers