Sitting for hours on end behind a desk? You could be putting yourself in danger of fatal heart problems. A recent report by NPR included commentary originating from a researcher at South Carolina University who found that men who sit more than 23 hours a week are 64 percent more likely to die from coronary disease than are their equivalents who only sit for 11 hours or fewer a week. That’s shocking news.

The Good News

The message is obvious: Get off your rear. The good thing is, you can greatly reduce your sitting time by building a standing desk. A standing desk — which is just what it sounds like, a desk at which you stand rather than sit — is far from pricey. It is easy to construct it with cheap parts from Ikea. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of the Lifehacker blog.

The Easy Way

Need a fairly easy desk for yourself? Lifehacker suggests making a standing desk with Utby legs. This is a smaller desk, but it will provide you with enough room for a monitor, keyboard and laptop. For this particular desk, you’ll need a Vika Amon Top, Utby underframe, Ekby Jarpen shelf and one set of Capita legs, all of which you are able to find at Ikea for a total of around $140. As per Lifehacker, you can put this desk together simply by assembling the main desk and platform with a screwdriver.

A Bit More Complicated

You may also use Ikea parts to produce a bit more complicated wide standing desk, according to Lifehacker. Again, you can find the various components you need at your nearest Ikea: five Vika Byske legs, two packs of Capita brackets, one Lack shelf and one Vika Amon tabletop. These materials should set you back about $250. This desk will provide you with more space, for your tech plus your supplies. But it will be slightly more difficult to build. You will need a power drill. But try not to let that scare you. Lifehacker still ranks this desk as a “medium” in terms of difficulty.

 

E-mail manners matter

On April 24, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

How many e-mails did you send today? You probably lost count at some point just after lunch. The odds are you sent over a dozen messages out to family members, friends, clients and co-workers. Here’s the big question: Were any of these e-mail messages rude? Were any overly brief? Would any one of the messages you sent today make their recipients wonder if they had done something to offend you? Yes, there exists such a thing as e-mail etiquette. Here’s a short primer regarding how to mind your manners while sending e-mail.

Sometimes it is possible to too brief

When a person receives an e-mail message that simply says “yes” or, worse, “no,” they may ponder whether you’re somewhat ticked at them. After all, that’s a very short response. When sending e-mail messages, then, be sure to include a bit more meat to make your recipients feel good. Instead of just answering “yes,” you could start to add a, “Thanks for asking” or a “Hope you’re doing well today.” That can make a significant difference. And if your message is brief due to the fact you’re typing it on a smartphone or tablet, set up a special e-mail signature that conveys to recipients that this is the reason for your brevity.

Always answer

CBS News reminds you to always answer whenever you receive an e-mail message. Our inboxes are often flooded with e-mails. It can seem like a challenge to reply to them all. But disregarding an e-mail message is rude, CBS News says, and can turn people off. CBS News states that sometimes a simple reply of “Thanks” is all that senders require to feel positive that you’ve received and are considering their message.

Take your time

We receive a lot of e-mails everyday, it’s tempting to pound out responses and send them back without proofreading and editing them. After all, that removes at least some of your e-mail clutter. However, this may also result in messages that are full of typos, something that’s more than a bit off-putting. And if you don’t proof your messages, you could accidentally forget to attach that report or photo you are promising. That’s irritating for recipients.

No shouting, please

PR firm Ragan advocates you keep in mind your basic offline manners when writing e-mail messages. This means including those magic words as part of your messages, “please” and “thank you.” All too often, in the rush of composing and sending e-mails, we overlook these niceties. Ragan also warns against shouting in your e-mail messages. For those who don’t know, “shouting” means typing in all capital letters. This looks incredibly annoying on the computer screen.

 

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Website

On April 22, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Spring Cleaning Applies to Websites, Too!

Just like your home, your business website also requires an annual spring-cleaning. It’s easy to let things slide, and the consequence of that would be a decline in traffic, reputation and ultimately sales. This can be a relatively insidious way to lose traction with your website, as you don’t necessarily see it happening. But it’s very real, and will have very real results.

So in the spirit of prevention, listed below are 5 ways for you to make a positive change in how your sites appear, operate and prosper.

  1. How rapidly do your pages load? – You have under 10 seconds to load your page or the majority of people will exit and go elsewhere. Some causes of slow loading pages are too many images, pages built mostly with Flash, and errors in your site code. This is something you want to check into, as Google will penalize your site in the search rankings if your pages take too long to load.
  2. Old products, programs, links lurking – You should definitely remove any old product, programs and links that are no longer relevant. Nothing helps say your page is stale and dated more than your PDF download from 2008 that’s not only dated but unavailable. Dead links and 404 pages will also not help your search rankings, either.
  3. Old content and images – Likewise cull out stale, no longer relevant content and images. Your old pictures from the company picnic in 2007 might not be considered fresh content, which is what folks and search engines both want!
  4. Social media – Make sure that your social media buttons not only link to your current social media sites, but that you are up to date with them. Pinterest and Instagram are later entries that may not be represented in your social buttons.
  5. Fresh content – Nothing will help nearly as much as fresh, updated content, consisting of posts, videos, audios, and images. If you have posts on the first page of your blog that are over the age of a month, you might want to rethink your content strategy.

It’s spring, and time to get about cleaning. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Evernote is an excellent tool for saving important information. When you store notes, videos, photos and other documents in an Evernote notebook, not only is the data saved on your computer, tablet or smart phone, it’s also saved in Evernote’s servers. However, the tech site How-To Geek provides this warning: This is not enough data security. Fortunately, How-To Geek also tells you how you can have more security by backing up your Evernote notebooks.

Not as secure as thought?

You might be wondering: Do I really need to back up my Evernote notebooks? How-To Geek would answer with an emphatic “yes!” This is because Evernote isn’t a backup system. It’s a synching system. And in a worst-case scenario, Evernote’s remote file store could be wiped. Then, the local file store can be wiped, too.

Protecting yourself

How-To Geek goes through several different methods for you to back-up your Evernote notebooks. Some are quite complicated. One of the simplest ways is to take full advantage of Evernote’s “export” option.

Exporting

One of the easiest ways to do this is to export your notebooks. This can be accomplished by right-clicking on any notebook and selecting “Export Notes.” Now you can export your notebook in a variety of formats. Then, if you lose the data in a notebook, you can import the exported notebook as what How-To Geek calls a wholesale replacement for the missing notebook.

 

What you didn’t know about the Internet

On April 10, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Business Insider recently ran an intriguing look at the way the Internet really works. It’s a fascinating article because so many of us are getting reliant on the world wide web in such a short period of time. Most of us don’t actually know how this massive communications and information tool actually works. Business Insider, though, revealed several fascinating details of what really transpires online. As reported by the story, 27 percent of U.S. consumers use their smartphones and the mobile Internet to shop. Seven percent of U.S. consumers have purchased things from online auction sites. U.S. residents aren’t shy about banking online, either. As reported by Business Insider, 33 percent of U.S. residents use their smartphones and Internet for mobile banking. Here are some more of the most fascinating:

Facebook is King

First, take a closer look at Facebook. You already know it is an incredibly useful site for keeping up with your friends and relatives. But did you know, too, that Facebook is the dominant player in regards to online traffic? As stated by the Business Insider story, and data from Hitwise, Facebook makes up about one in every five Internet page views. That’s impressive. So is the amount of members that Facebook reached recently: As per Business Insider, the social media site now boasts in excess of 1 billion users.

The Biggest Data Center is Rising in Utah

Data centers have become essential in the Internet age. Soon Utah is going to be home to the largest data center in the world. Reported by the story on Business Insider, the National Security Agency is now building the planet’s biggest data center in Utah. How large will this center be? As stated by the story, it’s going to be able to hold a yottabyte’s worth of data. A yottabyte, as you can imagine, is very large. According to Business Insider, one yottabyte equals 1,000 zettabytes. It also equals 1 million exabytes.

Streaming is on the Rise

Do you stream movies or Television shows on your TV, computer or tablet? Even if you don’t, the chances are high that your neighbor probably does. Streaming became one of the Internet’s most popular features. According to the Business Insider story, quoting statistics from Harris Interactive, in excess of Half of U.S. residents are using the web to watch TV. Streaming video has grown to be a particularly desired service among the younger customers which are flocking to Web streaming. As stated by Business Insider, streaming is a major hit among users below the age of 35.

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5 Deadly Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

On April 8, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

5 Deadly Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Understanding what NOT to do when it comes to social media is nearly as important as knowing what you should do. Below are some social media slipups to avoid at all costs!

Jokes in poor taste – It should be obvious, but you really need to put on your thinking cap before you tweet, update or post. And even more importantly, don’t try and benefit from someone else’s catastrophe as a way to promote your products or services. While a celebrity death or humiliation might appear to be easy pickings for trending traffic, you might end up alienating more people than you attract!

Offensive statements and political rants – Closely related is the tendency to broadcast your preferences political, social or otherwise, which may well have the misfortune of NOT aligning with your your clients and customers. Don’t go there! Try to keep from sharing anything that could possibly be misunderstood, or you’ll end up scrambling for cover! Once trust is broken, it’s very hard to rebuild.

Not making business only accounts – An account solely devoted to your business has not only a far greater chance of being found in the search engine results, it projects an altogether more professional image for your business.

Not using social media buttons on your site – These are so easy to make use of, and available for all social media platforms. You’re literally throwing traffic away if you don’t utilize these simple tools to extend your reach by making them accessible for your homepage and all the content you create. This is extremely easy to do.

Not using your social media profiles to link back to your site – You’ve gone to all the bother to create and use these social sites, why not take the free, authoritative link they’re offering back to you! Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google all permit you to link back to your website. There’s five great links into your site, and a great chance for your (hopefully) many followers to end up on your site.

 

5 Deadly Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

On April 8, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Don’t Make These Social Media Mistakes!

Understanding what NOT to do in relation to social media is almost as critical as knowing what you should do. Below are some social media mistakes to avoid at all costs!

Jokes at other people’s expense – It should go without saying, but you need to think before you send anything at all out into cyberspace for the world to see. Above all, don’t try and take advantage of someone else’s bad luck or indiscretion to promote your own products or services. While a celebrity death or embarrassing scandal may seem like easy fodder for attracting eyeballs, you’re very likely to tick off as many people as you tickle!

Offensive statements and political rants – Closely connected is the tendency to broadcast your preferences political, social or otherwise, which may have the misfortune of NOT aligning with your your clients and customers. Don’t go there! Keep from sharing anything that might be misunderstood, or you’ll find yourself scrambling for cover! Once trust is broken, it’s very difficult to rebuild.

Not making business only accounts – An account solely dedicated to your business has not only a far greater chance of being found in the search engine results, it projects an altogether more professional image for your business.

No social media buttons on your website – They are readily available for all social media platforms, and you’re shooting yourself in the foot if they are inaccessible on your homepage and every post you make. This makes it easy for your readers to share your posts and in doing so help promote your business.

Not using your social media profiles to link back to your site – You’ve gone to all the trouble to build and use these social sites, why not take the free, authoritative link they’re offering back to you! Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google all allow you to link back to your website. There’s five great links to your site, and a great chance for your (hopefully) many followers to end up on your site.

 

How to Bring Your Facebook Page to Life!

On April 3, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

8 Tips to Instantly Improve Your Facebook Page

Curious about the best ways to boost your Facebook page quickly and easily? There are many ways to do this, but to help you get off to a flying start we’ll limit ourselves to just eight for the moment. These techniques will not only aid you in getting more visibility in Google, but in addition lay the foundation for better customer relationships that result in greater loyalty, which has obvious and numerous benefits.

  1. Commit to Facebook – Facebook takes some effort, plus a bit of time. Many marketers who have generated a Facebook page for their business soon abandon it, this makes a statement about their company. Make a rock-solid commitment to post updates and content regularly, and also to engage with those people who are following you. Otherwise, it’s pointless.
  2. Create a Custom URL – Make sure you get a custom URL for your page. The one it comes with is not likely to aid with search engine optimization (SEO) or for anyone looking for you.
  3. Don’t Repeat Your Tweets – Twitter is fantastic, but don’t make us live through things twice. Be unique in what you post on your Facebook page. Your added effort will be rewarded.
  4. Keep Updates Short and Sweet – Like it or not, folks are into short nowadays. There’s a time and place for longer material, but generally aim to keep posts short – 150 characters or less.
  5. Deliver Awesome Content – Creating lots of great content that others can use and are referring to and sharing will always be the primary goal here.
  6. Engagement with Your Readers – Don’t be shy about inspiring conversation, asking questions, holding contests or anything else that gets the conversation rolling!
  7. Be Responsive to Problems – Take anyone that complains seriously, and be proactive responding to anyone that asks questions. You can head off a lot of problems this way.
  8. Post Photos – According to Facebook, posts including a photo album, picture or video generate about 180%, 120% and 100% more engagement than text-only updates, respectively.

Using these tips will give you a terrific head start toward making your Facebook page a topic of conversation!

 

It’s not something that small business owners contemplate: But how are you affected if the one person with access to your business’ most critical online accounts – your company’s social media accounts, online bank accounts and cloud-based payroll software – dies unexpectedly? Are you going to be able to access those accounts? You better, or else your business is likely to be in for some financial pain.

A big issue

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted this issue on its Web site. It may not seem like a difficulty that your business will suffer. But if your business does have online accounts to which only one person has access, you could be tempting fate. In the event that person dies, are you able to access your online bank account so that you can pay your vendors or cut a rent check to your landlord? How about your payroll software? Will you be able to cut checks to your employees, most of whom want to get paid on their regular payday? And then there’s Twitter and Facebook. If your business depends on these tools to communicate with customers, you’ll need to know the passwords that give you access.

False sense of security?

The Wall Street Journal story defines the issue as a matter of trust. Simply put, business owners put an excessive amount of trust in the cloud. They erroneously feel that data they put in the cloud will stay protected forever. This isn’t true, though. The cloud doesn’t offer absolute protection from hackers. And it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll always be able to access your critical business files, data and accounts. In the event you can’t access your online accounts because none of your living employees knows the passwords, having all your important business matters stored online won’t be much help.

Fixes

Solving this issue, fortunately, isn’t difficult: You simply need to be sure that more than one employee knows the passwords for your online accounts. And you need to be equally certain that your critical accounts are either registered to your company or more than one staff member. That way, should that key employee die, you’ll still be able to conduct business normally.