Project Glass: Help or Hindrance

On May 30, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Many people spend their days with their heads down looking at their devices. Google hopes to pick our heads up and still allow us to be constantly connected. Enter Project Glass; this is Google’s recent project that let’s users have their data projected in front of their eyes, you could have heard it called Google glasses. You may also have read an article or two about this or have seen pictures of people wearing glasses that look straight out of Star Trek.

A Computer Above Your Eyes

These augmented reality glasses let people chat with friends, share images, take notes and more all without using their hands. The actions you would like to take, whether to chat with friends or get directions, all display in front of your eyes.

A Stream of Useful Information

These Google glasses are activated using voice commands. By simply speaking out loud, “where is the nearest bus stop” the glasses will bring up a map and lead you to your destination.

This video, produced by Google, gives you a glimpse of what wearing these augmented reality glasses might be like. The video shows a man making plans throughout his day, without having to bother with a hand held device. As he heads to meet a friend the glasses warn him that the subway is suspended then maps out walking directions for him to follow. The video shows that these glasses can act as a personal assistant who stays one step ahead and makes your life run more easily.

An Unobtrusive Technology?

One of the possible problems that has been raised about Project Glass is that the information may become a burden. Google has said that only information users want will be shown, and this could be more helpful than a hindrance. For instance, wouldn’t it be great to just say, “take a picture” and your glasses perform the command without you fumbling for your camera?

There are already those who think that these glasses will be used for advertisements. A few spoof videos have been made and posted on YouTube that demonstrate this idea. While it’s not clear what will be projected into your field of vision with Project Glass, what is clear is that Google’s latest effort holds unlimited potential.


Getting the Most out of Gmail

On May 25, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Gmail, Google’s email system, is continuously growing in popularity. This isn’t a surprise; Google hasn’t developed too many products that prove unpopular with consumers. But are you using Gmail to its fullest potential? Below you will find some ideas to help you manage your inbox.

Label your messages: Is your email inbox filled with messages from friends, co-workers, bosses, and family members? It can prove difficult to keep track of these messages. Fortunately, Gmail allows you to add brightly colored labels to your messages which helps organize your inbox. For example, you can slap a red “Urgent” label to all messages that you need to address quickly. You can put a blue “Vacation” label on email messages relating to hotel reservations, car rentals, and other vacation-planning activities. If you’re conducting a job search, emails from possible employees and networking contacts might include a purple “Job search” label.

Free up space with archiving: Do you like to keep your inbox clear of emails, but you can’t delete ones you have read because you may need them? Rather than create a bunch of different files you can simply archive old emails. Archiving emails sends them to an “All Mail” folder so they don’t clutter up your inbox but you can still access them when needed.

Add a signature: Adding an email signature saves a tremendous amount of time because every time you send an email you don’t need to retype your name and contact information. Gmail permits you to create a signature and automatically puts it into the bottom of every email you send.

Filter your incoming messages: Gmail can automatically filter your incoming emails. For example, if you are presently accepting applications for a job opening, you may create a filter that sends any email with the words “resume” or “application” to a file you’ve created called “Applicants”. Or if you would like all of the emails that come from your supervisor to be labeled as “Urgent”, it can be done with this feature.



Embracing VoIP Technology

On May 23, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Do you know what VoIP is? VoIP is short for Voice over Internet Protocol, and it is a technology that enables people to make calls via the Internet rather then use a traditional landline. VoIP is very affordable and can save businesses, of any size, between 30 and 50 percent on their phone expenses.

Businesses today, of course, are still struggling through the nation’s sluggish economy. Many are running on tight budgets with skeleton staffs. Today’s businesses, then, can use any form of savings they can find. The cut in phone costs that VoIP provides would appear to be an easy avenue for savings. But are businesses actually embracing VoIP technology? Are they using it to slash their yearly costs?

A Move Toward VoIP?

A recent study says that businesses have not turned to VoIP technology as much as you’d think. Even so, the same study also says that this appears to be changing. According to research from Heavy Reading, about 31 percent of installed business lines in North America were VoIP-based in 2011. What’s promising, though, is that Heavy Reading predicts that this figure will increase to 66.6 percent by 2015. Heavy Reading also predicts that by 2015 just 33.5 percent of business lines will consist of traditional circuit-switch versions.

Businesses are Switching to VoIP

So, the study shows that the amount of businesses that will use VoIP will double by 2015. Currently, traditional circuit-switch phone lines make up 68 percent of business lines in North America. So by 2015 will there actually be such a dramatic change? This is difficult to say but as people get more informed about the benefits of VoIP it is probable that business owners will make the shift in the coming years, even if it’s not as fast as the Heavy Reading study anticipates.

A Bright Future for VoIP and Business

VoIP technology cuts costs for companies while supplying voice communication that is as clear as a traditional landline. An excellent thing about VoIP technology is that people don’t have to change their habits; the phones work the same as landlines. So, make room landlines, here comes VoIP.



Thanks to the Internet, most people pay their bills, seek out entertainment, and get their news on-line. So it is not surprising that music streaming is as popular as it is. Many people stream their music and there are a variety of music-streaming services to choose from. This can be very advantageous as people always have access to their music, as long as they have access to the Internet.

But which music-streaming services are the best? Below are a few recommendations:

Pandora: Pandora is very widely used because of its simple user interface. After navigating to the website, you are able to input a song or artist you want to hear and Pandora will create a “radio” station determined by that information. This is a terrific way to learn about new artists with similar sounds. The stations that Pandora creates are easily customizable as well. If Pandora chooses an artist that you don’t like, you can select the thumbs down symbol on the song. Pandora allows for further customization by allowing you to “seed” your station with different artists. While you can tune in to Pandora without creating an account, it is necessary if you want to save your individualized stations.

Grooveshark: Grooveshark is a lot like Pandora in that it generates a “radio” station based upon your musical tastes. However, you can also enjoy entire albums on Grooveshark and create playlists. One distinctive feature of Grooveshark is the capability to upload your own music to the Grooveshark database if you cannot find what you are searching for. This is a smart and simple opportunity for Grooveshark to grow its library.

Rhapsody: Rhapsody’s appeal is based on its huge database of music: more the 14 million songs. Sadly, this service is not free, it is $10 a month for unlimited music.

Spotify: Spotify was introduced in 2008, and since then it has exploded into one of the most widely known and used music-streaming services. Spotify is very simple to use and, like Grooveshark, users can listen to entire albums or choose to use the radio function.  One thing that people love about Spotify is its integration with Facebook. If you use the Spotify app, it keeps a running list of the songs you have heard on Facebook. Additionally, users can see what their Facebook friends are currently listening to on a real-time feed. This is great for those who are in search of new music if one of their friends has similar tastes.


The Kinect: Changing Our View of Windows

On May 16, 2012, in Uncategorized, by NorrisLula33

It’s been some time since Windows was thought to be cool but the Kinect may change all that. The Kinect is a voice and motion-sensing device which was originally designed as a feature for the Xbox gaming console.

Microsoft in February launched Kinect for Windows. This version of the device works with, of course, Windows-operated pcs. Now a number of users are putting the device to work in unforeseen ways.

Innovative Uses for the Kinect

At the Chicago Auto Show the Chief Marketing Manager for Nissan North America used the Kinect in an interesting way, by creating a virtual tour of the enhanced interior of the Pathfinder. This worked out well as they only had the outer shell of the Pathfinder to actually display. By using the Kinect, participants could actually “see” what the interior looked liked.

Microsoft is encouraging companies to find different uses for the Kinect and even cooperating with them to create applications for it. This is an excellent move on their part, as it not only promotes ingenuity but it also puts a Microsoft product at the center of the creative development. One company that has worked with Microsoft in this way is Boeing. They’ve used the Kinect to build virtual tours of their jets. Another unique use of the Kinect was discovered by a medical facility in Canada. They are using the Kinect’s gesture-recognition to swipe through CT scans. This greatly decreases, if not eliminates, the chance of spreading germs because you don’t have to touch the computer.

Kinect: A Solid Hit

When Microsoft developed the Kinect for Windows they hit a home run. Last year the Xbox 360 was the best selling gaming console. In fact, since November 2010, more then 18 million Kinect devices have been sold. This is definitely transforming the way that the consumer views Microsoft products.

The Kinect has many uses outside of what it was originally developed for. Microsoft actually designed something which is not only useful, but considered cool. This change in attitude toward Microsoft could help the company in lots of ways.



Videoconferencing Versus Business Travel

On May 9, 2012, in General, Uncategorized, by Sutton33Cherie

There aren’t many people who look forward to going on business trips. They are a hassle and expensive for the organization. Business travelers often feel rushed, which results in insufficient sleep and poor dietary habits, which exacerbates stress. Not to mention dealing with Airports and long-term parking. Because of this, many businesses decide to use videoconferencing as much as possible. But do you think that business travel is on its way out? Will Videoconferencing replace it completely?

The End of Business Travel?

But is this something which we should strive for in business? Is it the best thing if videoconferencing replaces face-to-face meetings altogether? Perhaps not, consider the differences between meetings that are face-to-face versus videoconferencing.

When people around the world sign on to a videoconference, they generally introduce themselves quickly, if required, and then dive into the goal at hand. Brainstorming does not often play a big part in videoconferencing; this is partially because of the worry that their connection may fail. As well, there are many distractions within the individual’s office that can make fluid conversation tricky.

The Benefits of Face-to-Face Time

At in-person meetings, however, agendas have a way of falling by the wayside, and that’s a good thing. Meetings may start only after a few minutes of personal chit chat and they might end with participants swapping office stories. Again, this is good. Often, the best business ideas arise from these moments of off-topic discussion.

Business Travel is Here to Stay

Yes, business travel is an inconvenience and videoconferencing is a convenience. However, there are times when meeting face-to-face is the best option for generating the most imaginative business solutions. For this reason, don’t expect savvy business executives to ever entirely replace business travel with videoconferencing.


Advancing Technology: Limitations

On May 4, 2012, in Uncategorized, by ZelmaHudson20

Doesn’t it seem like we should currently have jetpacks? Teleporters? Or meals in tablet form? We already have some impressive technology, like tablets, which are small computers that we can carry around. We can utilize the GPS in our cars to get around around town. We can post an update to our social media sites and reach countless people at once.

So, why don’t we have teleporters and hovercrafts? What is preventing us from taking these leaps in technology?

Building a Better Battery

Batteries power nearly all of our technology, particularly as we move into a more mobile world. For that reason, the more limited our batteries are, the more limitations we have technologically. They are a fundamental part of our technology, so we need to focus on improving them before we can really make jumps in technology. Fortunately, researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University are designing a more efficient lithium-ion battery, which we discussed in a blog post last week. This could solve this limitation in the next few years.

Improving Internet Access

The second limiting factor has to do with access. Simply put, not enough of the world’s population has access to high-speed Internet access. It might seem like every public library, bookstore, and cafe’ provides its patrons with access to high-speed wireless Internet, but this is mostly a mirage. The vast majority of humans do not have easy access to the web. Until this occurs, we’ll be needlessly limiting the development of technology. The more minds that are connected on the Web, the better the possibilities are of reaching the next tech breakthrough.

The Business of New Tech

Finally, there’s the business end of things. Technological progress is slowed by arcane things such as patent law. Businesses take their time releasing new gadgets and services because they must first traverse a minefield of laws and government regulations. These laws are important. However, they must be clear and easy to comprehend so new technology isn’t bottled up needlessly.

Even though there are a few things that are holding technology back, it is still developing at a rapid pace. Maybe we will finally get hover boards when battery technology catches up to our imaginations.



Adobe Photoshop is an amazing tool. It lets organizations edit the images they need to create professional-looking brochures, pamphlets, and marketing materials. However, Photoshop is far from inexpensive. A quick online scan will show that newer versions of this image-editing program can run higher then $600. For small business owners with limited funds, this program just is not practical. This doesn’t mean, though, that these small business owners do not have photo-editing options. In fact, businesses can select from a host of alternatives that are not only cheaper but are actually free.

Of course, these programs are not as powerful as Photoshop. But they have enough photo-editing features for small business owners to effortlessly create professional looking material. Below is a list of the best free photo-manipulation programs now available.


GIMP is very easy to use and possesses most of the features from Photoshop that a business owner would need to create marketing material. The beauty of GIMP is that it’s completely free!


Do you remember MSPaint? It came standard with the Windows operating system. Paint.NET is its successor and is a really powerful and free photo editor. It comes with its own special effects and an limitless undo; this is great for people who want to experiment with the effects. The one negative of this program is it only works with Windows.


Picnik is a free program that works on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. This program has some really fun effects such as blurring, darkening, and lightening images. It’s probably the most popular free editing programs, as you don’t have to download files to use it.

In the end, if you are looking for a program that lets you create professional marketing material, there is no need to spend a lot. These programs will let you accomplish this task at no cost.