Small business technology
Many large organisations and government departments spend weeks on the planning process and have many staff tied up in meetings, filling out forms and gathering information for the central planners.
The good news is that a smaller business can be more agile and the planning process far simpler. All you really need to do is understand how your business works and figure out how technology can help you achieve your goals. Then you just need to work out where the gaps are , that is, what needs to change in your technology portfolio. Do you have Windows XP? Would tablet pcs or iPads help your staff on the road? Write down what you have and what you would like to have. Then work out how to implement what you would like. Consider the aims you have and the values that are important to you. For example, do you want to work from anywhere ? Are you aiming to reduce power consumption to help reduce pollution
For example, if you have identified that you have a PC running Windows XP , find out what you want to replace it and how much it would cost. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Talk too many suppliers and ask your friends or family, especially of any are geeks. We like talking about these things!
Electronic Lighthouse can provide you with independent advice or if you are located in Brisbane or on the Sunshine Coast, take you on a personal shopping tour . But before you buy, there is one more thing to consider. This is how t9 build risk management in to your plans. Next week, we will talk about business continuity and show you how to do this.
If you have a SIM pin, which is normally a 4 digit code you need to enter to start your phone, a few easy tips will make your life easier.
1) a PIN is a good idea, as it delays a thief or interloper trying to use your phone
2) chose something you will remember easily but is not easy for others to guess
3) know your PUK code or register with your telco’s online tool to manage your account. Your PUK code is the code you enter if your phone has been locked from entering a wrong PIN too many times. This happened to me yesterday due to a relative’s old flakey handset which occasionally has keyboard malfunctions. Even if you know the PIN, typos happen or a key or software can malfunction. Most only give you three tries. If you are registered online, it’s quick and easy to find the PUK and unlock it. Otherwise, find the code on your phone documentation or ask your telco and keep it written down in a safe place away from the phone.
Today begins a series on less known but useful phone apps for business . If you want to be able to control lights or displays at your business remotely, read on.
What is it?
The app doesn’t do much on its own, requiring a compatible device. My testing was done with a WeMo switch, which is similar in size and appearance to the timers that we all remember from holidays as kids. It’s much easier to use though and if you have forgotten to set the time or aren’t happy with it, you can alter it while on holidays. It can be used for any device that plugs into a standard indoor power point. The one I tested is not weatherproof so unfortunately not suitable for swimming pool filtered and such things.
Who is it for?
Anyone who is going away or who wants to control security lighting after hours, for example. It’s easy to use and we tested it with IPhone and an Android phone. It can often be purchased on special from major consumer electronics stores for around $60.
My desktop is faster than my Laptop, why is this so?
I’ve been using a laptop and desktop which have “the same” i7 processor but the desktop performs so much better. How can this be?
For a start, they are both i7 processors but they aren’t the same. Without opening either of them up, the following are likely explanations.
– as the laptop is much older, it will probably not have a 4th generation processor. The recently purchased desktop definitely has a 4 th generation i7 processor. The newer processors are faster, to the extent that a 4th Generation i5 may be faster than an older i7.
– mobile processors are optimised for power saving rather than speed, so tend to be a bit slower
– mobile processors slow down when running on battery to conserve power.
What should I do?
Unless you are buying a new computer, probably nothing.
If you are buying a new computer, make sure you chose one which meets your needs. A cheap laptop or an old one may struggle with tasks like video editing. For more on Intel processors, have a look here. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404674,00.asp
A high quality web cam which has the following – good quality sound recording – HD video – wide field of view so if, for example, up to three people gather at a workstation, they can all join in. Mine is a Logitech C920 but this is not advertisement and others may also do the same job. When picking one it is important to make sure it has all the features you want and picture and sound quality are up to scratch. Check reviews online if you haven’t seen it in action. I can say that I have used it for still photos and training videos with audio as well as on Skype calls and have found it excellent. I am using a photo taken with it on my Skype profile.
It can be purchased in local shops for under $140. Watch out for special deals as there are currently some around for $83 or less from reputable suppliers.
How does it help?
Webcams are often popularly associated with adult entertainment or Skype calls to family. This is a view of their capabilities which is too limited. They are also a serious business tool.
Some ways they are useful include
– making promotional videos
– making training materials for clients or staff
– taking still pictures for social media profiles
– video conferences with clients. This can be done with simple software such as Skype
Can you think of others? Please let me know if you have found a web cam useful in your business.
Explain how I would seek service if required. If my device has be sent away, where to and how long is it likely to take?
Why is it important?
The written warranty doesn’t give you a feel for how long you might be without your device if it needs service. Even if the company has a service centre in your city, it still might have to go elsewhere. If it’s essential for your business, you need to be back on deck quickly. If you do buy something with this type of arrangement, make sure you have a “Plan B” such as keeping an old device as emergency backup.
The Nightmare Test
Finally, verify the sales staff or manufacturer’s claims. A simple way to do this is Google the product name and the terms nightmare then problem. This will uncover cases where service didn’t go smoothly, especially if the incidents were numerous or widespread.
A vending machine that gets you back online
Traditionally vending machines sell snacks, drinks and other after hours requirements. I recently came upon a vending machine which sell chargers. As I have an iPad with a battery that does not last as long as it should, I purchased the PowerPod Overnighter 2 from the machine in Central Brisbane, near Woolworths for $45.00
My initial impression is that it is a very usefuhl device. It charges my smart phone in the same time as a wall charger and indications are that it will last for the claimed three charges. I’ve done one so far, and two indicator lights are still on. With the iPad, other reviews intricate it will not charge it fully. However, it charged it from completely flat to 60% in a comparable time to the wall charger at which point I swapped over to the wall charger as it was night time and I needed the device first thing so didn’t want to take a risk of it not charging further. I think it would charge further and will do more tests. In any case, it would be enough to get me out of a tight corner on a day or overnight trip.
In summary, initial testing indicates the PowerPod performs as claimed. It’s a very useful device if you travel or as a precaution against power failure and I love the vending machine concept making them available in places where they are needed at times when electronics stores may not be open. Every tourist area and air or sea port or bus station should have one.
What has technology got to do with networking? Most people would say not much, unless you are talking about creating a computer network. But I’ve been to some great networking events lately where technology enhanced the experience.
I’m a member of a local business group which uses the Bizzabo phone app at its events. No more lost business cards as Bizzabo allows you to connect with, keep the contact details of, and message other attendees. Bizzabo for event attendees is a free download for Android and Apple so if you to an event that uses it, give it a try..See http://www.bizzabo.com
Are you buying a new phone or shiny new laptop at the end of the financial year? If you plan sell, donate or recycle your old computer or phone, make sure not to give away your data with it. This applies to tablets, too.
For a phone or tablet, it is simple. Just go to the menu and find the Reset to Factory Default setting. Selecting this will wipe your data and it’s good to go. For a computer, it is more complicated. Just deleting data or even reformatting the hard drive is not enough. I normally use the free Eraser program from Heidi http://eraser.heidi.ie
Recently though, I encountered a Windows 7 computer which kept claiming Eraser didn’t have permission to run. After trying a few things, I decided to give the free version of CCCleaner a go. It did the job and the shiny, clean old laptop is now ready. CCCleaner is also useful for getting rid of browser histories and cookies and can be found at https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner