Author Archive: Matt

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.

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By July 8, 2014 Read More →

4 Ways to Convince Your Boss to Let You Work from Home

Salesman working from home and talking on phoneThat traffic jam last week is what finally pushed you over the edge—your normally long commute of 30 minutes grew to two hours as you tried to get home from work. Although you like your job and your co-workers and your boss, lately you have found yourself dreaming of working from home—and that endless commute convinced you to set up a time to speak with your supervisor about doing just that.

The following tips can help you show your boss how and why working from home will be a great option:

Arm Yourself With Statistics

Before you go in to speak with your supervisor, you might want to print out some articles that show how employees who telecommute are more productive. For example, this digital article from Inc. Magazine notes that employers save an average of $11,000 per year if an employee telecommutes half the time. And, in case your boss questions if you would be putting in the required number of hours from home, assure him or her that telecommuters are almost two times as likely to work even more than they are required.

Have the Right Equipment

In order to successfully work from home, you’ll need the right tools and equipment as well as a home office that is amenable to getting a lot of work done. Before speaking with your supervisor, take some photos of your home office, and make sure that you have—or can easily get—the right equipment that is needed to telecommute. For example, most bosses will want you to have a decent computer, a reliable printer, great cell phone reception and secure access to any remote files.

If you are not already on the cloud at home, you may want to research cloud-based storage options that will prove to your boss that you can easily share documents and files with him or her and your co-workers. If you are confused about cloud storage, a website like Top 10 Cloud Storage does a great job of offering tips and advice about which cloud-based systems are best suited to your needs.

Explain Your Reasons

As Skip the Drive notes, your boss will probably want to know why you want to work from home. Prepare for this question ahead of time, and come up with serious and compelling reasons of why you want to telecommute. Instead of saying things like “I am so seriously tired of the office dress code, and at home I can dress the way I want to”—which will probably get you sent back to your cubicle in a matter of seconds—calmly and confidently explain how you will be more productive in a quiet home-based office, how your long commute is really draining or how you feel you could get more done without the distractions of co-workers.

Be Willing to Compromise

When speaking with your boss about working from home, offer compromises. Suggest that you give it a try two days a week, and take it from there. Or, if you feel super strongly about telecommuting and your boss seems to be less-than-thrilled about the idea, offer to take a small pay cut. Showing that you are willing to bend and work with your supervisor may help to convince him or her to give telecommuting a try.

Posted in: Editorial
By July 7, 2014 Read More →

Uncharged devices no longer allowed on US bound flights to counter terrorism

iPhone4-flatAmerica is banning uncharged mobiles or laptops on US-bound flights over bomb fears. A new measure is bound to cause chaotic scenes at airports around the globe, and is part of the US Transportation Security Administration’s effort to boost surveillance amid concerns that terrorists are plotting to blow up an airliner.

Jason Fernyhough, from mobile accessories distributor Accessory Lab, comments on the news: “most people board planes with enough charge in their devices for a few hours at most as, more often than not, devices will typically be switched off during flights. However, with this new security drive, I can see charging stations appearing at airports, rather like paid for Wi-Fi hotspots. Cafes and public areas will no doubt benefit from additional revenue, but also airport retailers selling mobile device chargers will see panic buying. In the short term, airport infrastructure will take a while to set up the charging booths and the cost to charge for passengers won’t be low, so we believe that there will be a boom in portable chargers and they will become a travel essential.

“To avoid any risk of being refused boarding on all US bound flights, portable chargers and power banks will ensure travellers have the ability to power up multiple devices and charge them very quickly before they board a flight. The keys considerations for travellers will be speed of charge, charging capacity, size of charger, durability and compatibility, which is useful for multiple devices.”

Accessory Lab has a range of chargers branded Olixar that will ensure anyone travelling to, or around, America can reach their destination. Please see information below.

Accessory Lab is also offering some advice on what to look for in a charger here: http://www.accessorylab.co.uk/2014/07/07/power-banks-and-portable-chargers-buying-guide

All Olixar products are available to buy now at www.mobilefun.co.uk, with prices starting from £19.99.

Posted in: Laptops, News, Phones
By July 1, 2014 Read More →

How Social Media Shaped Cell Phone Design

shutterstock_180921581In 1984, “The Brick” started the cell phone revolution—even with its bulky size and cost. Eventually the phone evolved into a sleek design with capabilities beyond the vision of the original designers of the mobile phone. In the last 30 years, cell phones have been updated from bricks to flip phones to the iconic iPhone. But phones weren’t the only thing that was changing. We were also revolutionizing the way we communicate with each other. Innovative social media platforms available on cell phones have enabled us to connect in a different ways. Designers have to continually keep up with the trends, so who knows where we will end up 30 years from now. Here are just a few ways that cell phones have advanced:

Increased Camera Capabilities

Social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, who boast a base of 26 million and 200 million users respectively, have forced companies to release phones with enhanced camera capabilities.

Selfie was without a doubt the biggest word of the year. People would take photos using their front-facing cameras and call it a selfie. Even though Sony Ericsson first introduced the front facing camera in 2003 with the Z1010, it wasn’t until Apple released the iPhone 4 that the phenomenon really took off. Now, virtually all smartphones include a front-facing camera so users can take selfies at the Grammy’s, on top of the Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, or take selfies at the gym.

Sprint’s PM8920 released the first camera phone, featuring a 1.3-megapixel camera. This number is dwarfed in comparison to what we have today. The iPhone features an 8-megapixel camera, the Sony Xperia contains 13-Megapixel camera and the Nokia Lumia 1020 has an astounding 41-megapixel camera. The increase allows users to take higher quality pictures to share with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Phone buyers are now cognizant of the camera quality in smartphones and often account for that in their purchasing decision. Even more amazingly, these phones are a fraction of the price they were in the ’80s and they are widely available from the major service providers.

Enhanced Video Recording

Smartphones are also equipped with the latest video technology. The best smartphones have the capability to shoot at a high frame rate. The amount of frames per second (fps) is the amount of unique images created in a second, thus raising the quality of the video. The Mobile Choice Awards named the HTC One the Best Video Phone of 2013 because it shoots at a remarkable 30 fps, allowing users to create videos mimicking the quality of Hollywood films. The newest technologies also work to regulate light so your shots have the optimum brightness.

YouTube, Instagram and Vine also are responsible for the advancement in video capability for smartphones. People love to share their experiences on video through their social media networks. Whether it’s capturing a child’s first step or recording your favorite band’s set, you will want to record it to share with your followers. Beyond sharing intimate, family moments there is a growing amount of people making money from their smartphone videos. Some Youtubers and Viners are even making a living off their creative aptitude, and they will continue to push for further video capturing innovations.

Keyboard Design

Cell phone manufacturers have had to alter device designs to keep up with all the different types of messaging and status updates. Innovative keyboard design all started with the immensely popular Sidekick, which featured a slide out keyboard that allowed users to easily text their BFFs. The BlackBerry has also been at the forefront of keyboard design because of their easy layout, which has sustained a dedicated base of users. Nowadays, touch screen keyboards are king as it allows users to quickly enter their status updates. There are even swipe keyboards that allow users to type faster than ever.

Posted in: Editorial, Phones
By June 28, 2014 Read More →

3 ways to make your office more energy efficient

System_separat.inddOffices waste a phenomenal amount of energy. Computers, lighting, copiers and other office equipment is often left on all day. This not only damages the environment, but significantly increases monthly outgoings. There are plenty of ways to make the office space more energy efficient; however, managing a whole team of people and trying to keep them motivated about energy efficiency can be very difficult.

These three techniques are easy to implement; will inspire your workforce; and save you a huge amount of cash over time. 

Install Air Conditioning

Comfort is the most important element of retaining a good level of employee morale. An uncomfortable workforce will lead to unhappy employees and reduce productivity by roughly 30%. The simple addition of air conditioning will create a more relaxing work environment, which will almost certainly reflect positively in your employees. 

With regards to energy bills, there’s a common misconception that air conditioning will cost more; however, that’s simply not the case. Macair state that a decent HVAC system can reduce energy bills and carbon emissions by up to 15%. Programmable thermostats will retain a constant temperature and ensure you don’t waste excess energy over-cooling or over-heating your workspace.

Turn off computers

In most office spaces computers are left on all day and all night; apart from on weekends. Turning off the monitor won’t cut it. At the very least turn off computers during the night. If possible, tell your staff to turn off their computers if they won’t be in use for an extended period of time – during lunch breaks and meetings, etc. Electricity is without a doubt the largest office expense in the billing department, yet most bosses won’t bat an eyelid when they see computers and monitors left on when they’re not in use.

In addition to turning off computers, tell your employees to turn of lights and other office equipment when they leave a room. If you need help inspiring your workforce, give them some kind of incentive program. For example, set a quota and use some of the saved cash to buy them treats, such as a box of morning donuts.

Install decent lighting

Installing decent lighting is vital. Wherever possible use natural sunlight. If you lack windows, ceiling lights or skylights are the best option. Think about energy efficient bulbs; while they can take a little longer to get bright, they’ll be far better in the long run, especially if you need to keep them on all day.

Think about your light placement. Sometimes it’s not the power of the bulb that needs adjusting, it’s the positioning. If you use lamps, place them in a triangular formation to maximize light projection. In addition, think about repainting the office. White walls and ceilings will reflect light better than dark colour schemes and could significantly brighten up the space.

Creating an energy efficient office isn’t just about reducing bills and protecting the environment, it can also positively affect business. Many companies will only choose to work with people who have green initiatives, even if they are more costly.

Set yourself targets and try to keep everyone motivated. Consider assigning one of your employees the role of energy coordinator and  make them your “eyes in the office.” This will help to keep your team aware of wasting energy.

Image Credit: Emco Klima

Image Caption: Installing an air conditioning system can significantly reduce bills and emissions.

 

Posted in: Editorial
By June 27, 2014 Read More →

Top 3 reasons to own an iPod car adapter

connected your ipod to your carWith summer upon us, many of us will be packing up the car, strapping on our seatbelts and heading on a road trip. Staying entertained while on the road can be difficult and, while books and game consoles may keep the passengers quiet, drivers will need to find amusement in audio.

Listening to the radio is okay to start with, but there’s only so many times you can listen to the same annoying advertisements and repeated songs. Surely there has to be another option?! There is — an iPod car adapter. Read on to find our top three reasons why you must own one.

1.      Shuffle

Listening to CDs is good, but what do you do when you come to the end of the album? Do you run the risk of attempting to switch CDs while driving — something we do not advise — or simply press play and endure the same 12 or so songs over and over again?

The shuffle function on your iPod puts an end to this. No longer are you bound to the limits of one album or artist. Simply hit shuffle and delight as your tunes jump from Jay Z to Jason Mraz, from Britney to Blondie. You’ll definitely have plenty of ‘I forgot how much I love this song’ moments during your journey!

2.      Genius playlists

With an iPod adapter, you get the best of both worlds. If you fear that jumping from the dulcet tones of Barry White to the infectious lyrics of the Black Eyed Peas will distract you from your driving, there is another option.

Apple’s Genius function automatically creates playlists of songs of similar genres. This means they won’t be any sudden changes from a cheesy pop ballad to a death metal anthem, so you’re sure of no surprises during your trip.

3.      Prevent arguments

It’s no secret that family holidays can become quite tense. While we love them dearly, there’s only so much time you can spend in close proximity to your loved ones. While mum might love listening to Rod Stewart, it might not be shared amongst the group.

Having an iPod car adapter enables you to switch between genres easily. This means you can keep everyone happy by taking it in turns to pick a song. It’s the fairest way when musical tastes differ.

So now you know why you need an iPod car adapter, where can you get your hands on one? Specialist retailers like In Car Connections stock a variety of in-car adapters to suit many types of cars, from BMWs to Renaults. Choose the one that’s right for you and prepare to hit the open road.

Posted in: Editorial, Gadgets
By June 27, 2014 Read More →

5 accessories every smartphone owner needs

allveb-2Your smartphone might’ve replaced everything from the humble calculator and calendar to the digital camera and MP3 player, but you still need the odd accessory to get the most out of it. Check out our list of must-haves below.

1. Smartphone case

High-end smartphones are worth upwards of £500, so it’s important that you shield them against damage. Repairing cracked screens is expensive, and scratches and scuffs ruin the appearance of your handset, reducing its resale value.

It’s a good idea to buy your smartphone case direct from the manufacturer, as it’s more likely to hold it snugly and leave spaces for connectors and camera lenses. You can browse the range of Nokia cases here, HTC cases here, Samsung cases here, and Apple-approved iPhone cases here.

2. High-quality earphones

Most smartphones come with a pair of earphones, but they’re not always of the highest quality. If you want to make the most of watching movies, listening to music and playing games on your device, purchasing some new earphones might be a good idea.                      

John Lewis has a wide range of premium headphones, and includes a minimum two-year guarantee with every purchase. Take a look at the reviews as well as the specifications to ensure you invest wisely — Bose tends to be one of the top brands.                

3. Speaker dock

For similar reasons, a speaker dock is a must-have. Smartphone speakers can’t produce high volumes and tend to compromise quality. Get your hands on a Bluetooth dock so you can enjoy quality sound wirelessly. There’s one for every budget available at Amazon.     

4. Emergency phone charger

One of the few downsides to owning a smartphone rather than an old-school handset is the reduced battery time. All those apps, a high-resolution screen and impressive processors are power hungry, so you can often find yourself low on juice.

For those occasions you need to charge while on the go, a power pack is a necessity. Check out the range at Gizoo, which includes chargers that are compatible with most devices. There are compact power packs that are small enough to fit in your pocket, and larger models that can top up your battery again and again.

5. Window mount

Anyone with a smartphone and a car needs a window mount. These accessories keep your device safely away from hands, so you’re not tempted to answer texts or check emails unsafely. They’re also indispensable when using your handset’s built-in sat nav.                                                                               

                                                                               

                                                                               

                                                                               

                               

Posted in: Editorial, Phones
By June 27, 2014 Read More →

How Can Conducting A Video Meeting Help Your Webinar Become A Success?

boardroomThe ability to talk to a large group of people allows you to spread information at a prodigious rate. This is important for businesses as well as educational facilities and even in government. The question is, how you can reach as many people as you need to? In the past, you needed to gather everyone into a large area and speak from a position high enough and loud enough so everyone in attendance could see and hear what you had to see. These days, webinars have taken over as the quickest and easiest way to speak to a large group of people all at once.

How You Can Get Started

The first thing you should consider when you’re looking to hold a webinar is the software you’re going to use whenever you’re broadcasting, according to Forbes. Such things as the Blue Jeans network video conferencing platforms allow you to broadcast your message to as many people as can access your webinar. Best of all, since this will be highly similar to simply having a conference call, you will feel ultimately comfortable in speaking to your group. You won’t be able to see everyone you’re talking to, so you won’t have to worry about getting stage fright. You can give your webinar to a small group of people in the room with you rather than worrying about how many people are looking at you. The absence of noise from the crowd makes it possible for you to concentrate on what you’re saying rather than how people are reacting to what you’re saying. It is of the utmost importance to check all of your equipment and software before your webinar begins, so you can make sure you’re not going to encounter any problems as you get started.

Make Sure You Incorporate Social Media

Social media allows everyone in your webinar to discuss what you’re saying as you say it, according to Copyblogger. As you get started using Blue Jeans network video conferencing platforms to broadcast your webinar, make sure to announce the hashtag associated with it. This way, everyone involved in the webinar can discuss during the webinar as well as afterwards. This is a perfect way you can actually engage with the people watching the webinar. They can provide questions to you through something like a Twitter hashtag. Simply have someone monitoring the hashtag with all the activity and passing along important questions as they come through. You can then read the questions and offer answers to the entire group rather than to just a few. Additionally, this keeps the discussion going long after the webinar is over. You can continue to offer guidance and support to those who needs it. Of course, because it is social media rather than a face to face conversation, it means everyone else who might have had the same question will be able to see the answer to the question and you will experience fewer interruptions.

Using Guest Speakers is Even Easier

Guest speakers always make a seminar better, but you cannot always get the speakers you want speaking at your events. This is why you might want to consider using a video meeting for your webinar instead. According to Tech Soup, this is a perfect way to get them involved without having to worry about a conflicting schedule getting in the way. They can simply come on for their section of the webinar and then leave immediately afterwards. The cost of utilizing the talent of these speaks goes way down when you remove travel expenses and other considerations. You can even have more speakers than you might normally have the ability to book. With the ability to simply turn on a smartphone, tablet or webcam, there’s really no reason why the speaker cannot fit the time in.

Get More from Visual Aids

A big problem with a live seminar is not everyone can get the full benefit from the visual aids you’re using. This is why you should be using video meeting as a webinar tool. You can display your computer and everyone on the call will see exactly what you see. According to PR Daily, you should aspire to take a page out of Steve Jobs book. This means you should pay attention to just how much you’re asking your audience to read. If your slides have a novel written on them, people will just stare at them while fighting their sleep. If you aspire to have fewer than 5 words on each frame, you will have a much better shot of getting your audience to read everything you put on the screen. Make sure everything is highly inspiring as well as integral to what you’re talking about. Also, make sure the slides will not interfere with the ability to see your face while you’re talking.

Posted in: Editorial
By June 25, 2014 Read More →

Internet Security Isn’t Just For PCs Anymore

shutterstock_165303932By the end of 2014, Internet Stats Live predicts that there will be upwards of three billion internet users worldwide who will move a trillion dollars throughout the year. With that kind of money on the line, it’s no wonder Internet security is such a valuable business, both for the safety officers and the criminals. Internet security is not simply a function of the equipment used. How and where you log on can put your data at risk.

Take Your Head Out Of The Cloud

About two-thirds of adults in the United States use some form of cloud storage system to back up and share important documents. Cloud sharing is inexpensive and convenient, but can also put your data at risk. Once you put your files on the cloud, the system could be hacked and your information can be stolen or lost; no matter how secure, there is never a guarantee. The New York Times, Facebook and even the U.S. Federal Reserve have all fallen victim to cyber-attacks that were actually successful to some degree. Don’t let the big names fool you! Check your data often, maintain local backups of the really important stuff and keep an internet paper trail in case you ever need to prove ownership of information.

BYOD And BYOS

Personal computing device sales surpassed PCs in 2013. The two major operating platforms, iOS and Android, have significant security concerns but companies are implementing Bring Your Own Device policies to save on overhead. Sure, saving money is great, but BYOD methods introduce huge security risks to the organization and to the individual. The recommended key to fixing this problem is training. Security risks can be mitigated by understanding the rules of consumer protection. Research of college students entering the workforce shows that they do not understand the dangers or the steps associated with reducing risks. The best way to avoid data theft is to be in the know.

A Little Theft With Your Latte

Coffee and free WiFi are one of the joys of the modern world. Unfortunately every time you log onto the network, you’re putting yourself at risk. To a savvy hacker, every person on that network is openly sharing information. A good rule of thumb is to never make purchases from a shared network environment. Even if the site is secure, the information can be intercepted long before it gets to the destination. For example, over the past year India has started finding itself in an epidemic of cyber-attacks and thefts because of its shared Internet networks.

Too-Smart Devices

You can do almost anything with a smartphone or tablet. Most people do not understand the power and risks that come with using smart devices for business purposes. These devices can get malware just as a PC might. Make sure that your tablet and phone have protective software. Both Google and Apple have a wide range of recommendation to keep the hackers out of your phone.

Posted in: Editorial
By June 14, 2014 Read More →

HTC Desire 816 hands-on

htc-desire-816-en-slide-02Earlier this year, at MWC, HTC made a fairly queit announcement about two new devices that they were launching. They were the HTC Desire 816 and the HTC Desire 610.

Here we are taking a look at the Desire 816, this new smartphone offers a larger screen, that’s reaching phablet proportions, decent performance and features at at mid-range price.

With a design that certainly demonstrates that it’s from the same stable as the ever popular HTC One, the Desire 816 has top and bottom stereo speakers with built in amplifier, 13MP camera and 5MP front-facing selfie camera.

Check out the video below to see more of what the HTC Desire 816 has to offer:

 

 

 

HTC Desire 816 specification:

  • Nano SIM/Optional Dual SIM
  • Dimensions: 156.6 x 78.7 x 8 mm (6.17 x 3.10 x 0.31 in)
  • Weight: 165 g (5.82 oz)
  • Display: Super LCD2 capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 720 x 1280 pixels, 5.5 inches (~267 ppi pixel density)
  • HTC Sense UI v6
  • 3.5mm jack
  • microSD, up to 128 GB
  • Internal Memory: 8 GB, 1.5 GB RAM
  • HSDPA, 42 Mbps, HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps; LTE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP
  • NFC
  • microUSB v2.0
  • Primary Camera: 13 MP, 4160 x 3120 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, 1080p
  • Secondary Camera: 5 MP, 1080p
  • Android OS, v4.4.2 (KitKat)
  • Qualcomm MSM8928 Snapdragon 400
  • Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A7
  • Adreno 305
  • Accelerometer, proximity, compass
  • FM radio
  • GPS with A-GPS support and GLONASS
  • Battery:Non-removable Li-Po 2600 mAh battery

 A photo lover’s dream. 13 megapixel main camera and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera ensure high-resolution pics from either side. Capture moving HD images with built-in editing and sharing tools, and combine results for multiple-angle views. Incredible design, massive 5.5” HD display, dual front-facing stereo speakers, customised real-time info feeds and a quad- core processor all make this one of the best value smartphones ever.

By June 5, 2014 Read More →

Top tips to help you afford the latest gadgets

ironman2-apr23It seems like every few months a new swish gadget hits the market. Unfortunately, the latest gizmos do not usually come cheap and even for the most avid tech geeks, it can be difficult to finance the latest state of the art technology. Not all of us have the means of a multi-billion dollar corporation like Stark Industries at our disposal and that is why it is handy to know a few tips and tricks which can help making it easier to afford new technology, fancy gizmos and fun gadgets.

 

eBay Is Your Friend

Set up a “saved search” on eBay for the item you are looking for and that way you will be notified immediately as soon as it is being sold. Quite often, you will find second hand items on eBay that are in mint condition and some might only have been taken out of their box but they were never used. This will usually knock a few pounds off the price and you might be able to get yourself a bargain. 

 

Claim It Back

If you are self-employed and need the latest gadget for your business, you might be able to claim back the expenses of the item when filling in your tax return. You can find more information on whether you are eligible to claim back expenses for an item by clicking here.

 

Borrow the Money

There are ways to cheaply borrow money and one way of finding out is by using Totally Money’s ‘Cheapest Ways to Borrow’ tool to find out what the cheapest way of borrowing money would be for you. The tool also lets you know how long it will take you to pay back the borrowed money, so that you know exactly what you’re getting into. One of the suggestions this tools makes is taking out a 0% interest credit card. That way you can pay back the money interest free over a period of time until the 0% expire.

 

Sell Old Gadgets

Once we upgrade our technology most of us have no more use for the previous models, whether that is a phone, a laptop or an e-reader. There are plenty of places that will pay you money for trading in your old gadgets. This might help you to raise some money for the newer version of a gadget.

Posted in: Editorial, Gadgets