• Technology

    Smart Buildings

    The Tip of the Iceberg

    With the advent of smart building technology, we are at the precipice of a world very different from the one we know. We are soon to see entire smart communities composed of smart buildings, smart cars that drive themselves on smart highways lined by smart street signs and smart billboards.

    And why are these smart buildings and smart cities necessary? Haven’t we done just fine without them? While that is certainly debatable, it is becoming difficult to deny that urban areas around the world have infrastructures that are severely strained by ever-increasing populations. The World Health Organization reports that in 2010 more than half of the world’s population lived in cities. They estimate that the number will increase to 60% by 2030. The United Nations estimates it will be over 70% by 2050. With power distribution systems, water management systems, sanitation systems, transportation systems and more encumbered by increased demand, and with the budget constraints that most municipalities face, there is a strong push toward increased efficiency and sustainability in cities around the world. Additionally, many governments are now enforcing laws mandating cleaner technologies and reduced emissions.

    The world in which we live is changing, as is the way we live in it. There are some obvious benefits, and as with any change there are some significant concerns.

    What’s the Downside?

    In the midst of all of the excitement about cleaner, more efficient cities with less waste and lower emissions, a few voices still can be heard crying “Stay out of my business, big brother!” So, what happens when these technologies become tools for policing the population? Is there a line that has been crossed when some organization decides when your doors should be locked? Or what about whether or not your car will start? What if automation technology can be used to deny services to people based on arbitrary criteria? Are we moving too quickly into the future?

    While some of these questions may seem like the unsettled ramblings of a reclusive conspiracy theorist, there are many people who consider these to be valid concerns. These are not new questions, though, and similar questions surface nearly every time a significant technological advance is made. There are far too many benefits to building a smarter infrastructure to think that it may not happen. It most certainly is happening right now, and the benefits are already being measured. While there may be legitimate concerns, the concerns will be addressed. There is more value in preparing ourselves for the reality of what’s happening than in denying it.

    Consider the Upside

    Some of the benefits of smart building technology are cited above, including greater efficiency, reduced waste, less pollution, fewer accidents. These are obvious benefits that can save municipalities a great deal of money, while simultaneously creating a cleaner, more efficient world for us all. These technologies can reduce – maybe even eliminate – our dependence on fossil fuels. These technologies can create cleaner air, safer streets, and healthier, happier citizens.

    While there may be some valid concerns, information and communication will help to alleviate many of them. We are living in a time with virtually unlimited access to information. There is no longer any good reason for us to live in ignorance. If we can stay aware of the new technologies that are being introduced into our environments, and stay abreast of any legislation that supports these new technologies, there is no reason for us to fear the future. What’s more important is the type of life we can lead in this “smart” world. Imagine a world of healthy people with more free time and fewer expenses. What new possibilities can come from a life unencumbered by the tedium of performing these simple daily tasks? This can be a liberating experience if we let it.

  • Technology

    Proper Visual Management Tool

    The Ability to Brainstorm

    All great platforms will allow your employees to brainstorm and throw ideas up on the big board without having to start the planning process right away. In order to do this properly, they should be able to have a digital holding center for all of these ideas where all of the team members can access it, no matter where they might be. This brings us to our next requirement.

    The Ability to Work With Remote Team Members

    There are many reasons why team members cannot be all in the same location at once. Maybe different team members are on other teams as well and time slots do not match up. Maybe there are field teams and corporate teams in your company. No matter what the reason is, these visual tools should be able to be used by all team members no matter where they are in the world. This means there has to be a web-based interface and the ability to host several users at once.

    An Easy-To-Use Interface

    All of these tools need to be usable by all members of the team. Unlike some programs, where only certain team members can use them, such as accounting or finance software, this program has to be accessible. This means that all members can be easily trained on how to use it. Usability is one of the key features of a visual tool like this, and without it the tool is essentially useless. In order to determine the ease-of-use and accessibility of these management tools, you should do a trial run and have several different team members test out the software. If it is easy to use, your employees will let you know!

  • Computer,  Technology

    Laptop And PC Recycling

    Laptop and PC recycling comes with a number of advantages. One of the advantages is that the process aids in preventing misuse of resources. Since the old devices are used in making new ones, no new natural resources are used in the process and this aids in preventing misuse of resources.

    Recycling also has economic benefits in that it aids in saving energy and money that will have been used in manufacturing new devices. Since the money is not used in recycling, it’s used in uplifting the economic status of a country.

    The recycling process is also eco-friendly as it eliminates accumulation of waste which often results to the spread of toxins and diseases. Since there is no accumulation of waste, there is no generation of greenhouse gases and as a result there is no climatic change. This means that people live in a healthy environment that is free of pollution.

    The first thing that you need to do is to erase all personal information that might be in the device. Removing all the information protects you from identity theft and also ensures that your personal files can’t be accessed by someone else.

    To safely delete the information you need to use a disk wipe program. You can get the program online or ask an IT professional to assist you with it.

    Once you have erased all of the information, you should find a recycling center in your area. The good side is that many large cities have drop off locations where recycling can take place; therefore, if you live in a large city you will not have a problem finding a recycling center.

    If you live in a small town or city, you should search online for a computer recycling company. You should note that some companies pay for shipping while others require you to pay for the shipping. Before you settle on a given company, you should understand who takes care of the shipping costs.

  • Technology

    List Internet Service Providers

    Verizon

    Verizon is a leading brand when it comes to ISPs globally. It is all about delivering high connectivity, great surf speed that includes nothing less than 1.23 Mbps. The service provider delivers high speed Internet connectivity by using the fiber-optic network or the FiOS. However, with this in mind it is not always possible for everyone to opt for the technology of FiOS. There is a great possibility that due to a different geographic location you might not be able to gain access to a better network or even feel compromised with the lack of FiOS.

    Comcast

    Comcast is a great brand that is known to deliver XFinity service that is a collaboration of high-speed connectivity through fiber optic. It is with the recent upgrade to the technology of XFinity that can provide 1 Mbps surf speed. You get 15 Mbps download without any hassle or technical glitch. However, chances are that some geographic locations are out of reach. It is possible that due to a different geographical location you cannot benefit from it just yet. However, the standard version will still provide you with 992 Kbps surf speed.

    Cox

    Cox ISP can provide wide network coverage and connectivity through cable service. You will be able to get the XFinity and the FiOS technology at your home. You will get a great speed of 1.14 Mbps surf speed. This service is ideal and works well for those who have to reach zones like rural areas or countryside. If you are located at the far side of the country, where it is difficult to get fiber optic connection then this is the one for you. Opt for this ISP and you are good to go for PC games.

    Optimum Online

    Optimum Online might not be as popular as other ISPs, but it is capable of providing good cable connectivity. The connectivity option is designed for online games or PC games. The connectivity and the surf-speed provided by this ISP is 1.12 Mbps that is amazing. This ISP is certainly a great choice when it comes to speed similar to the fiber optic connection.

  • Computer,  Technology

    Fix Wi-Fi Connectivity Issues

    Check if the wireless radio is on

    The initial thing that you should start with is the special function key or the hardware switch if you are using a laptop. Remember, this should be the switch that helps you turn on/off a wireless radio. This is required to see if it was not accidentally turned off.

    At times, it is possible that the wireless radio is turned off to manage power settings on your device. Go to Power Options and change the settings that will keep it on even during low battery.

    Go to access point

    You should keep this in mind that if the access point to your wireless is obstructed by physical objects then it will affect the strength of the signal. You need to change the location of your wireless router to a place from where it can receive signals without any obstruction. Another thing to do would be to placing the wireless router in a central location if you are in your house.

    Reset Router

    If you are able to gain access to wireless router then you can try turning it off and restarting it. This would reset the signals and this would help get the connection back.

    Another reason that can cause wireless connectivity issues can be electrical and weather disturbances. In such situations you need to go back to default settings, these can be found in the manufacturer’s manual. You can access the admin settings using IP address.

    Network Card Settings

    Wireless routers are DHCP servers that help in establishing network with other devices without having to set up anything manually. You need to check for your TCP/IP settings to ensure that your adapter can automatically receive settings coming from DHCP server.

    Updating drivers and cards

    If there are issues with driver then it will cause troubles with network connections too. If your driver is not updated then too it will cause troubles. First of all, you would need to perform system update and network adapter update. You can try visiting the website of your router to check for firmware updates.

  • Technology

    Helpdesk Customer Service

    A helpdesk is nothing if it does not seek to improve. There are a number of ways that good companies should be keeping on top of things particularly when it comes to customer service.

    First of all, they have to make sure that the helpdesk staff are up-to-date with all the latest issues and know how to handle them. With something like IT support, where things can change quickly, this requires regular initiatives to ensure the customer gets the right answer and access to the appropriate expert advice.

    Another way to ensure your helpdesk is up to scratch is to survey your customers and ask their advice. This can be done by a follow up call or email and helps you find what works and what needs to be improved.

    Other helpful ways to track the success or otherwise of your helpdesk is to monitor phone calls and to retrain staff when necessary.

    One of the bug bears for those who outsource their IT infrastructure is the level of support received when there is a problem or issue. At M2 Computing our helpdesk is based in the UK and manned by skilled IT technicians who will have access to your systems and will be able to provide the advice you need and want.

    Our helpline staff provide jargon free advice for any problem associated with your network whether it is a PC problem, server or any other device. Many problems can be solved by accessing your system remotely but if that can’t be done then an expert will be dispatched to deal with the issue onsite.

    Our M2 Assist facility provides the support you need to make sure your systems are up and running properly and we can tailor our service to meet your very individual business needs.

  • Technology

    Effective Real-Time Data Visualization

    It’s not a new concept; data has been visualized in pictures for centuries. A map is a type of data visualization, for instance, as are the many charts and graphs that have been used since the end of the 18th Century. What is new is the massive quantity of data available to nearly everyone, and the wide array of tools that can be used to create compelling visualizations. Think about the cool infographic you saw the other day. Was it created painstakingly over several days of carefully reviewing ethnographic data compiled by a dogged scientist over the course of his career? Maybe, but probably not. It was more likely created by some marketing department somewhere (not that there’s anything wrong with that) using somebody else’s data and somebody else’s visualization tools.

    The purpose of this post, though, is not to discuss the merits of data visualization in general, but rather the specific subset of data visualization that deals with real-time data. This is a completely separate species of data visualization and should be treated as such.

    Real-time data visualization refers to visualization of data that is continuously updated as new data is generated by connected devices or people. This is the type of data that is used to make real-time decisions and, when done correctly, can truly transform business processes.

    There are a number of important factors to consider when attempting to visualize data in real time, but we will focus on three simple and obvious keys: clarity, consistency, and feedback.

    Clarity

    Real-Time graphics should emphasize pertinent information and use design principles that promote ease-of-use and accessibility above aesthetics. Things like size, color and brightness can be used to distinguish primary details from secondary and tertiary details. Special graphics can be created to emphasize different information under different conditions (i.e. a special set of graphics to be used when a certain alarm is triggered).

    Clear visualizations provide actionable information at a glance, and clearly show the current process state and conditions. Alarms and indicators of abnormal conditions are prominent and impossible to ignore.

    Clarity encompasses both content and context.

    Consistency

    Consistent visualizations are standardized and consistently formatted. Interaction requires a minimum of keystrokes or pointer manipulations.

    Shapes, colors, and layouts should be used consistently through all screens. If the color red is used in one place to designate an abnormally high value on one screen, that same color red should be used to indicate all abnormally high values of the same type on all screens. If navigation buttons are on the left side of one screen, they should be on the left side of all screens. A consistent visualization system is arranged in a logical, hierarchical manner, allowing operators to visualize both a general overview of the system as well as more detailed information on different components as needed. Navigation and interaction of any type should be as easy and intuitive as possible.

    Consistency is closely related to clarity.

    Feedback

    An operator should be fully confident that the choices they make are having the desired effect. Screens should be designed in a way that provides information, putting relevant data in the proper context. Also, important actions that carry significant consequences should have confirmation mechanisms to ensure that they are not activated inadvertently.

    Controls will function consistently in all situations. If something is not working as it should, that fact should be immediately obvious and undeniable. In a well-designed system, design principles are employed to reduce user fatigue.

  • Gadget

    Taking a Screenshot on a Mac

    Screenshot Software

    It can be termed as the best way of taking screenshots on a Mac device. This is because it is an ideal method for any kind of user, whether starters or pro users. The software is free and has different screenshot modes to capture the screen, application window, webcam and even web pages. It also has editing options, sharing options that are flexible and cloud storage making it an amazing choice. It is without a doubt a comprehensive solution for all Mac users with an interface that is simple to get the job done in seconds.

    Using the Mac keyboard

    This is the default way on how to make a screenshot on a Mac. It is a process that can be achieved through simple steps.

    • Turn the cursor into a cross hair reticle using Command+Shift+4
    • Click the cursor and drag to highlight the areas needed for the screenshot. This will be done by a rectangular cursor and you can make adjustments by pressing the ESC key to make the selection again
    • Release the mouse drag. A camera shutter will signify that your screenshot has indeed been taken. You can find your shot a “.png” file with a screenshot label on it. You can then attach and send the shot as desired.

    Bundled Apple Software Use

    This is the old way of taking a screenshot on a Mac. The utility GrabMac can be accessed from the utilities folder on the applications tab on the start menu. It makes it possible for the users to take shots that they need to and include a cursor or menu along with the screenshots. It is especially useful for TIFF format screenshots. You will have to choose the cursor icon that you prefer the most on the screenshots.

    Using Skitch for Screenshots

    This is definitely an easy way to get a screenshot on a Mac. This program allows passing of points using annotations, sketches and shapes. They will have a few words, but with the ability of transforming the ideas to reality in a short period of time. All you have to do is open the program and open the screenshot page in the new window tab before then clicking on the snap button. You can format the shot from the program and then use it as desired.

  • Computer

    Taking Care Of USB Flash Drive

    Protect the USB connector

    The USB connector is the part that enters the computer so that you can access your files. Dust and dirt can get into the connector thus causing short circuit that would damage the electronic components when you connect the USB to power. To avoid this you should keep the connector covered when not plugged into the computer. The best way of doing this is capping it. There are some drives that have a feature that makes it possible for you to extend the connector into the drive itself.

    Watch how you remove it from the computer

    If you are like most other people, once you are through with your work you yank out the USB drive from the computer. While doing this is fast, it can result to damage of the USB connector and the port of your computer. The best way of going about it is always going to the system tray icon “Safely Remove Hardware” and authorize the computer to remove the drive. When you use this process you ensure that you shut down communication between your computer and USB drive; therefore, you avoid damage.

    Protect it from falls

    To protect the drive and data inside, ensure that the drive doesn’t smash against the ground or slip through cracks. The best way of protecting your drive is keeping it inside a cover or enchaining it with a key-ring.