Remote-access apps make your iPad even more powerful

June 17th, 2014

Working out of the office can be frustrating–especially when you need to access a key file on your desktop computer and that computer sits many hundreds of miles away. Fortunately, iPad owners can access several apps that permit them to remotely access the files and data on their laptops and desktop computers, regardless of how distant from them they may be. Termed remote-access apps, these tools are available in a wide variety of price points. They also target a wide variety of iPad users, from those focusing on business to those who’re more interested in watching movies and playing music. Here’s a look at three of the most useful remote-access apps available today for iPad users.

GoToMyPc: Citrix has long provided GoToMyPC, a way to access your home computer while you are on the road. In fact, Citrix was offering the service before tablets and smart phones became the favored toys of tech-savvy consumers. Today, you are able to sign up for this service for $9.95 monthly for basic service or $99 for one computer for a year. Once you sign up, you’ll be given a free app for your iPad that lets you run GoToMyPC from a tablet. As the name suggests, you can use this service to remotely access your Word and PowerPoint documents, e-mail folders and file folders. PC Magazine recently reviewed the service and praised it for ease of use and effectiveness. The cost, though, is high. Many iPad users can find more affordable services that work equally well for their needs.

SplashTop Remote Desktop: The SplashTop Remote Desktop has become a top choice for iPad users. That’s because the system, as rated by CNet writer Matt Elliott, is straightforward to install and use. It’s also fairly economical, costing just $4.99. It also lets you stream both video and audio, something that other remote-desktop programs don’t.

LogMeIn Ignition: LogMeIn Ignition is yet another lower-priced alternative to GoToMyPC, though at $30, it is costlier than rival SplashTop. This program has also been praised by CNET for its being user friendly and effectiveness, but also for two nifty features. First, you can use LogMeIn to remotely wake up a sleeping or shut-down PC. Secondly, you may use the app to remotely move files from a PC to your iPad.

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Small steps the best ones to stem a cyber attack

June 12th, 2014

Here’s what attracts cyber attackers: easy targets. Which means that you can leave your small business open to a cyber attack if you don’t defend your company’s Wi-Fi systems with passwords or if you trust in passwords that are absurdly easy to guess. In a recent story outlining steps that business owners can take to protect themselves from cybercrimes, Entrepreneur Magazine advises that you do the small things that may make most hackers move on to easier targets.

Encryption Matters

Entrepreneur recommends you first encrypt all of your important data, anything from bank routing numbers to credit-card account information to employee Social Security numbers. Hackers want to steal this data. It’s how they ultimately drain money from your small business. Entrepreneur’s advice? Turn on the full-disk encryption tools that are included with your computer’s operating systems. On Windows, this tool is named BitLocker. On Macintosh computers, it’s called FileVault. The tool, once activated, will encrypt every file and program on the drive.

Lock it Down

Most computers have a Kensington lock port, a small metal loop that users can run a cable through to lock them to their desks. If you want to truly protect your business, require that employees take this protection measure. It might sound silly, but the Entrepreneur story said that businesses are often hacked after burglars break in and steal laptops along with other devices. A cable strapping a laptop to a desk won’t stop all thieves. But it might scare away those who want to strike especially quickly.

Wi-Fi Vulnerability

Often the easiest way for cyber criminals to gain access to your company accounts is through your business’ Wi-Fi network. That’s why Entrepreneur Magazine suggests that you do away with Wi-Fi altogether and instead install a wired network. If you can’t do that, as a minimum protect your Wi-Fi accounts with passwords that are hard to compromise. A good bet? Long passwords comprised of an assortment of letters, numbers and symbols.

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Time to eliminate the hassle of sharing your screen on a tablet

June 10th, 2014

Think you can’t use your tablet to share screens with your co-workers? Think again. There are plenty of apps now available that allow you to share your reports, images, documents and videos with co-workers and friends. With one of these screen-sharing apps, you won’t even miss that heavier laptop. Whatever screen sharing it can do, your tablet can now do, too. But which screen-sharing apps for iOS should you download? Miguel Leiva-Gomez, a writer for the tech site smallbiz technology, recommends three that should handle all of your screen-sharing needs.

Join.me

The join.me app comes in free and “pro” versions. To make use of this app on the iOS operating system, you’ll need to spend about $20 a month for the “pro” version. But as Leiva-Gomez writes, the investment is worth it. The software allows users to share all of their screens with co-workers, and it does it without a steep learning curve. It’s exceedingly simple to operate. The program also comes with other bonus features, like instant chat capabilities, Internet calling and file sharing.

Air Sketch

Leiva-Gomez states that this app will turn your tablet into a whiteboard with such features as multiple pages. Users are able to use images from their own libraries as the background of their whiteboard and they can make use of one of five different drawing tools. Users are also able to use Air Sketch to open PDFs. The program displays everything in real time, creating an environment well suited to collaboration.

Conference Pad

The Conference Pad completes Leiva-Gomez’s screen-sharing all-stars, and with good reason. It is a no-frills screen-sharing app, but it’s also a potent one. The application is especially impressive with regards to zoom. Users can zoom into any area of their documents or images without having to sacrifice an iota of image quality. And like the other screen-sharing apps that Leiva-Gomez highlights, it’s an easy one to understand and make use of, meaning that tablet owners will be sharing their screens in no time.

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Dealing with a slow Internet connection

June 5th, 2014

You’re on vacation but, unfortunately, work calls. You have to jump online to download a report or fire off a couple of e-mails. Unfortunately, the Internet connection at the lakeside resort is maddeningly slow. There’s hope, though: The Lifehacker Web site provides some pointers for boosting even the slowest of Internet connections.

Plug-in hogs

Certain apps and plug-ins are bandwidth hogs, decreasing your already sputtering Internet connection. Turn these off to get an instant boost. Lifehacker suggests that you install such programs as FlashBlock and AdBlock Plus. These programs can keep bandwidth-sucking ads, videos and animations from slowing down your Web connection.

Optimization

You might be stuck on a plane or at an isolated resort. To boost your Internet speed, optimize your Web. This could mean visiting the mobile versions of Web sites rather than the full-featured ones. It might also mean disabling images.

Change the way you work

In some cases, there’s little you can do to boost your Internet speed. In such cases, you’ll have to work smart. Perform those tasks that demand little bandwidth – for example sending e-mails – when you’re stuck with a slow connection. Don’t perform high-bandwidth tasks – such as editing videos – until you’re privileged with a speedier connection.

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Protect your back while flying

June 3rd, 2014

Typing on your laptop while you’re flying across the country isn’t much fun. But sometimes it can’t be avoided. What can be prevented is the back pain you often experience once your plane lands.

Back Pain

The Lifehacker Web site recently presented a key tip for easing back strain while computing in mid-air: Avoid hunching. That sounds basic, but it’s often difficult to not hunch when you’re working while traveling.

The Solution

To solve the hunching problem? Lifehacker recommends that you buy an low-priced laptop stand. You can find these for $20 or less, and they’ll angle your computer so that you can sit back and work in a neutral position that avoids both neck and back strain.

Stands

But if you’re without a stand? Lifehacker recommends as a last option rolling up one of those Skymall catalogs and making use of it as a makeshift stand.

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How Can You Use Facebook Graph Search in Your Business?

May 27th, 2014

How Can You Use Facebook Graph Search in Your Business?

Facebook is at it again, and this time it’s called Facebook Graph Search. It is their attempt to sway their search results from a keyword-based model like Google’s, to one where Facebook can use its greatest asset, the social interplay between all of its users. Still rolling out, Graph Search may not be open to you yet, (still only available in the US, and there’s a waiting list) but it’s on its way right around the corner. And if you have a business that uses Facebook at all, you must understand how this can benefit you.

So just what is Facebook Graph search?

Facebook Graph Search is a search model where you are served up results based not on any keyword you typed in, but instead results determined by your social spheres. For example, your search will highlight people who share your interests, photos and videos they’ve liked, and connections you share. These outcomes are unique to you as they’re based on you and your friend’s interests.

How can you utilize Facebook Graph search in your marketing?

One of the primary benefits here is apparently that Graph Search will reward those people who are making a genuine effort with their social media, engaging and interacting with their fans and followers. Facebook is mum in regards to the aspects of the actual search algorithm, but suffice it to say that it will do a lot towards removing pages that are trying to game the system. Fake Likes and fans coming from strange locations outside of your common spheres, will probably be viewed with skepticism.

Rather, this appears as if it is going to greatly benefit businesses making a genuine attempt at engaging with social media. Some ways you can be ready for Facebook Graph Search are to:

  • Make sure your Facebook page profile is totally filled out with your information, so that users can locate and contact you.
  • Make certain to engage, not sell your visitors.
  • Go through what you’ve posted online, especially on Facebook itself, as your info will be more available than ever! Delete any embarrassing items before they come back to bite your business you know where!
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4 Ways to Use #Hashtags in Your Social Media

May 22nd, 2014

What are #Hashtags and How to Use Them

If you’re like many new to social media marketing, and particularly Twitter, you might not have a keen understanding of exactly what a #hashtag even is. Let’s clear that up from the get-go. A hashtag is a convention used on Twitter, (although it may be used in other social media platforms to lead to Twitter) that organizes and categorizes conversations. They are symbolized by a # followed by a keyword with no spaces.

Some #Hashtags basic guidelines

Be sure to do your basic due diligence and see if the keyword you’d prefer to use is not being employed somewhere else. This is as simple as conducting a little research (a search on Search.Twitter.com) to find out if that #Hashtag is a good idea. Also, don’t try to make hay with misleading #hashtags, even if they may be seriously trending. This will almost assuredly blow up on you. And one more thing: make sure to proofread prior to when you create that #hashtag!

4 Ways to market with #hashtags

  1. Make your #hashtags short and direct - Keeping it brief and direct is the proper approach to win with #hashtags. If you wish to combine more than one, fine, but don’t string together a small army of them, as that will annoy readers and label you an amateur.
  2. Make them #hashtags to not forget - Great #hashtags are far more likely to be shared widely. Give consideration to this and you may get your wish and have it go viral.
  3. Use them on multiple social media channels - A #hashtag isn’t much use if it’s not shared. Although started on Twitter, #hashtags have become employed across multiple social media channels including Facebook, Google , LinkedIn and Pinterest. This assists to instill the #hashtag into the minds of their audience.
  4. Make use of keywords - When possible, work in your brand or major keywords. This is not always feasible, so choose judiciously.

Creating and making use of memorable #hashtags can keep your brand and conversation before your social media audience, and help perpetuate your campaigns. Give it a go today!

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Is your business website missing the essentials?

May 20th, 2014

Your phone is quiet. Customers aren’t sending you e-mail messages. Even worse, no one’s spending money at your shop. Your sometimes worry that you will soon be broke. There could be a host of reasons behind your small business’ struggles. But have you investigated the role your business’ website might be playing? A bad business website is often worse than no website at all. It might even be costing you business.

Help is on the way

Luckily help is on the way. Entrepreneur Magazine recently ran a feature providing business owners with the fundamentals that every company website should contain. Following this advice can turn your business website from a negative to a positive. And the first tip? Your site should explain right on its front page what your business is, what it sells or offers and who it serves. This will tell visitors that they’ve found the right site.

Not hard to find

A good business website ought to be easy to find, too. This means picking a domain name that’s easy to remember and intuitive. For example, if your company name is Steve’s Landscaping, your website address needs to be something like steveslandscaping.com. You might like the domain name GreenerGrass.com. Nevertheless the odds are that customers won’t be able to find your company website if they don’t already know your online address. The magazine also suggests using the .com extension – which is the one that everybody is familiar with – and to avoid including dashes or numbers in your Web address.

A clear map

Finally, don’t confuse your prospective customers when they reach your business website. Entrepreneur states that your home page needs to include clear links to your site’s sections. And you should include a site map that users can count on to find your site’s most important pages.

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That Facebook “Other” folder is more important than you think

May 15th, 2014

How many Facebook messages from co-workers, past bosses and friends have you missed over the years? The number may very well be more than you thought, as a result of Facebook’s unfamiliar “Other” folder.

Uncovering the “Other”

New York Times technology columnist David Pogue recently explained the way the “Other” folder works. When users who aren’t registered as your Facebook friends send you a note, they can either pay $1 or agree to have their message deposited in your “Other” folder. Guess which option most people choose?

Missed messages

Messages land in the “Other” folder when senders who aren’t your Facebook friends send you messages. These senders can either pay $1 to Facebook or allow their messages to arrive at the “Other” folder. The majority of people, of course, choose “Other.”

Find these lost messages

You can locate your “Other” folder by clicking your “Messages” tab on the left side of your Facebook page. Look closely and you’ll see the grey word “Other.” Open it, and you will probably be shocked at how many important messages you’ve missed.

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Follow these tips to keep your eyes healthy at the office

May 13th, 2014

Does your work require that you stare at a computer screen for several hours at a stretch? If so, eyestrain can become a serious problem. A current story by the everon small-business blog says that workers plugged into their computers can face a host of problems, from watery eyes to headaches, increased sensitivity to light and difficulty focusing. The good news? Avoiding eyestrain is actually quite easy, even if you need to stare at the monitor for eight hours. The everon blog offered some simple strategies for reducing the unwanted effects of eyestrain.

20/20/20 Rule

First, you need to practice the 20/20/20 rule. Basically, this rule says that once every 20 minutes you need to take 20 seconds to look at an object that is 20 feet or more away from you. The reason? This forces your eyes to focus on something that’s not a glowing video display. It also gives your eyes a bit of a workout. The everon blog indicates that every 20 minutes you walk take a 20-second break to walk 20 feet or more. This is not just good for your eyes, but for your wellbeing and mental state, too.

Reminders

The everon story even highlights several apps that can help you remember to take these micro breaks. One such app, Workrave, will pop onto your screen to remind you to take your break. The app will also suggest exercises that can help boost the strength of your eyes, back and shoulders. The EyeLeo app blocks your computer screen each hour, forcing you to get out of your chair and do something else. The app will demonstrate a quick exercise that you can tackle before your screen returns to normalcy.

Coffee Break

There’s also the Coffee Break app, though it’s only available for Apple. This app will steadily darken your screen as a reminder that your break is on its way. When the break arrives, your screen is totally dark, and it’s time for you to step away from the computer. Obviously, not even Coffee Break can make you give your eyes a rest. That’s up to you. Here’s hoping you don’t skip those important eye breaks.

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