Thursday, January 31, 2013

NEW GADGET!! - Ice Cubes that will tell you when you are drunk!

Responsible drinking is often seen as an oxymoron. Once you’ve had one too many drinks, you’re often not responsible enough to know when to stop. A student over at MIT is trying to solve this not-so-little problem by creating smart ice cubes that warn you when you’ve had one too many and will even notify a friend if you go past the point of no return.

Gizmag reports that Dhairya Dand, the MIT student who invented these light-up cubes, got the idea after experiencing a bad night of his own. During a party at MIT one night, he remembers having three drinks around midnight. Seven hours later, Dand woke up in a hospital without any memory of how he got there or what happened to him. While others would have simply vowed to never let that happen to them again, this young student did something about it by creating smart ice cubes to indicate when he needs to slow down.

Each cube comes equipped with an LED light, an accelerometer, an IR transceiver, and a battery. As you tilt back your cup for a drink, these little devices incased in a watertight and non-toxic jelly keep track of your sips and how long you go between each sip. The lights move from green to red as you drink throughout the night. If you don’t stop after the red light turns on, the cube will send a signal to your mobile device to text a friend to come pick you up. Nothing that small has ever been so responsible.

As an added features, the lights dance to the ambient music in the background. Imagine moving around a room with your own techno beat in a cup.

Right now, the prototypes only turn to red after you have three drinks within a 30-minute period. If this idea ever hits the market, the cubes would need to be smart enough to program in such factors as the weight of the person drinking or their particular tolerance. Until then, you can check out a video to see the cubes in action.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Understanding Cloud Computing is the first step toward optimum use

The Cloud: Many people have heard of it, some people are using it for 100% of their business, but for the most part, many people don’t understand what it is. Most people think of The Cloud as a magical place where all of an organization’s (or individual’s) data exists, free of any of the perils of storing that data at home.

Companies like Apple® and Google® have done a fantastic job of promoting cloud services. But one problem remains: most people don’t understand what cloud computing is, and they do not know the best ways to use it. To understand, one must start with its definition:

• According to Wikipedia, the cloud (or cloud computing) is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet)
This probably does not sound nearly as magical nor mysterious as one might think. In essence, cloud-based services have been around for years. So, why is there so much interest in cloud computing now, as opposed to several years ago? One explanation cloud computing has gained in popularity has to do with the speed of typical Internet access and the lower cost of disk storage systems. Another reason may be that cloud services companies have managed to find ways to charge by the “unit” for their services, and many more of those companies are offering their systems on a fractional basis.
Amazon® is a prime example of the above scenario. Amazon® offers a cloud-based “disk” system, amongst other cloud-based products, where one can purchase a set amount of storage space on its cloud servers for a set amount each month. If your storage needs grow, you simply pay more for more storage, and the trend continues. Google, specifically Google Drive, is another system that charges by the Gigabyte for “drive” space — basically a virtual disk in the sky.

There are many benefits to using cloud computing. Some benefits include:

• Upgrades are performed regularly and without interruption in some cases, so a company is spared the “upgrade window” problem that many in-house systems require

• New features are introduced almost instantly

• Costs are spread across a number of months or years. This is great for cash flow, but beware - long-term costs can often be much higher than “installed” systems

Obviously, there are many other facets of cloud computing. It can be an extremely beneficial system on which to store a company’s data, provided there is a strong understanding of what that data is and how it is to be stored, accessed and protected. When considering a foray in to cloud computing, a company must:

• Determine what type of cloud computing system is needed (storage, database, e-mail, etc)

• Determine how much data should be moved, and how much that will cost on a monthly or annual basis. If you are measuring overall costs, look at them over a 3-year period at a minimum.

• Determine how the current data is stored, and how secure that data storage is

• Determine how the data will be moved to the cloud computing system

• Determine how the data will be accessed in the future

• Train the people who will be accessing the data, so that they fully understand how their actions translate to potential security of the data

Take the time to consider these cloud computing factors, and then let answers drive your company’s decision on whether or not cloud computing is the best system for your needs.

TURNkey IT has helped small business owners build their technology to support their needs.  No job is too big or small.  Let us help you with finding the right solutions for your needs.  Call us at 866-928-8208.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

3 easy technology solutions to protect your business now!

Ahhhh! A brand new year, full of promise, hope and a fresh start. If you’re like most people, you’re making the usual resolutions to exercise more, lose weight, pay off debt, etc. Essentially, it’s a time of year when we momentarily take stock in our lives and think about all the things we “should” be doing more of, but don’t. So while you’re in the goal-setting mode, we thought we would tack on 3 business-related resolutions that probably aren’t on your list, but should be – especially since these all fall into the “important, but not urgent” category.

  1. Offsite backups. Can we beat this horse to death anymore? I know MOST of our clients reading this newsletter already doing this, but many still don’t and are relying on undependable (and outdated, I might add) tape drives or other volatile backup solutions. If that’s you, don’t let this be another year where you gamble with everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Get a better backup!
  2. Write A Disaster Recovery Plan. Pop quiz: If you woke up tomorrow and discovered that you couldn’t access your office building due to a local disaster or fire, what would you do? Or what would happen if a key executive—one who holds the “keys” to critical processes or applications—fell sick or (God forbid) died? Or what would happen if a disgruntled employee or hacker gained access to your web server, line of business application or file server and deleted everything—particularly if the data was hosted on the 3rd party cloud provider’s web site? These are all very real scenarios, and without a plan in place, you could be facing serious downtime and financial losses.
  3. Develop A Stronger Cyber Security System That Goes Beyond A Firewall And Anti-Virus. With more and more information about us being stored electronically, and with State and Federal laws becoming more strict, you MUST take cyber security seriously. Simply having a good firewall and anti-virus isn’t enough these days to keep the highly motivated and technically sophisticated criminals out of your network. The HUMAN element is the biggest threat—employees who accidentally click on links in e-mails or download files that introduce viruses to your network. Employees are also using social media sites more frequently, and they can intentionally or accidentally post something that could harm your company’s reputation or leak confidential information. Therefore, your security plan must also include employee training and policies so they know what is and isn’t acceptable when handling data and using company resources (Internet, computers, etc.).

If you don’t know where to start in creating any of the above, we’re here to help! Call TURNkey IT at 847-808-3990 to discuss how we can do all of this for you and take the work and worry out of these New Year’s resolutions!

Monday, January 28, 2013

2 easy ways to make your PC run like NEW!!

One of the most frustrating things in life is a slow computer!  


Every few years, we buy an expensive new PC and love how fast it starts up, runs programs, and loads websites.  Inevitably though, it starts to slow down until eventually we are pulling our hair out waiting for it to do routine tasks.

Why is this?  It turns out the answer is actually quite simple and you don't even need to be "technical" to understand the causes and solutions.

The good news: It's not the computer hardware that's the problem.  In most cases, the hardware you have is perfectly capable of being restored to its original glory and kept in fast running condition with minimal effort.

Rather, the problem lies with changes that occur to the PC's software.  The two most common causes of slowdown (along with easy solutions) are:

1. The most common problem: registery errors:

Every time you (or your kids) load a program, game, or file, your PC's software registery is updated with new instructions needed to operate that item.  However, when the item is removed, these instructions usually remain on your PC.  Every time you run your computer it tries to execute these instructions but, because the related program can't be found, it causes a registry error.  Your PC is doing a lot more work than it should be and the result is a significantly slower computer.

You can typically fix this problem by performing a scan which identifies and fixes registery errors- resulting in a computer that's a lot more like it was when you first bought it.  These scans also scan for junk and checks your PC's baseline security status. 

2. Spyware and viruses

Spyware and viruses are software programs that are loaded on your computer without your knowledge or permission.  They have various purposes, including:
  • Changing the default search engine in your browser.
  • Tracking your Web surfing habits and showing you targeted advertising.
  • Using your email program to send out spam to other email addresses.
  • Stealing your personal information.
Most spyware and viruses get onto our computers through files that we download from the Internet or as attachments to emails.  They tend to take up a lot of computing power and, as a result, will significantly slow down your computer.

The simple rule of thumb to follow is to never download any free software programs from companies you do not know and trust, especially screensavers, emoticons, and the like.  In addition, you should never open any attachment to an email unless you are 100 percent certain you know and trust the sender.  In addition, make sure you have a good anti-virus/spyware removal software running at all times.

Follow the above advice and your PC should stay fast and safe.

When running a small business never gamble on technology.  To ensure its running properly all the time so that you can concentrate on your business, call the professionals at TURNkey IT at 866-928-8208 and let us do the heavy lifting for you.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Intresting gadget!! - Introducing "Le Whaf"

Le Whaf

In a trend that has slowly been gaining steam over the years, new devices are able to deliver flavored vapor as a substitute for food or beverages. Sometimes advertised as a dietary aid, and sometimes replacing an energy drink as a shot of energy vapor, the “food mist” of the past hasn’t usually been very customizable. Now, with a kitchen gadget called the “Le Whaf”, the flavors of entire meals can be turned into vapor and then inhaled through a straw.

The contraption can waft either alcohol and other liquids, as well as meal substitutes. Wafting alcohol is simple enough — dump some alcohol into the wafting chamber, then turn the machine on. The same goes for wafting meals, but you have to buy special liquidized mixes for that. People that have used Le Whaf like to mention that the unit doesn’t really generate calories, because — you know — you’re not actually eating anything.

Billy Mays pitching vapor

David Edwards and Marc Bretillot, designers of Le Whaf, have actually put some interesting technology into the unit. Piezoelectric crystals sit at the base of Le Whaf, and when the liquid inside is at a specific level, they begin to vibrate. This vibration generates ultrasound waves, which cause the liquid to bubble and turn into vapor. Once the mist is created, Le Whaf can “pour” it into a glass, where it floats in the air for a minute or so before it sinks to the bottom.

Any liquid will work with the gadget, and the designers suggest trying out different homemade soups and juices. However, because Le Whaf only generates vapor, it’s obviously not a substitute for food, but rather serves a purpose similar to chewing gum. Also, it would be pretty fun to walk into a room, see an opaque mist, and just start tasting a steak.

Le Whaf has supposedly been a big hit in Europe, and the creators are hoping to bring it stateside sometime soon. If you’ve tried it, or any other food vapor products — such as those Vaportrim sticks or the Aeroshot energy inhalers — we’d love to know if they left you satiated in any way.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) systems-Is your business ready?

VoIP telephony can bring significant cost savings to businesses, and have an especially profound impact on small organizations or start-ups faced with limited budgets. David Kolssak, President of TURNkey IT,  said VoIP can lead to a "game-change" when it comes to saving money and staying afloat.

VoIP phone systems have been known to increase worker productivity and allow for employees to collaborate and communicate more effectively with coworkers and clients. The benefits have helped the integrated communications technology gain attention in recent years, with the market for this technology growing 21 percent in 2012 to more than 30 million VoIP subscribers in the United States.

However, Kolssak listed several considerations companies must make help them choose the best IP phone system.

1.  Do you have a sound network?  Since communications travel over the internet with VoIP, a company needs to determine its network capacity - can it handle the increase of data VoIP will create? Bandwidth, too, needs to be considered. The company's internet connection needs to be able to handle the new VoIP services while also maintaining current internet usage.  Kolssak further says that a company may want to opt for greater bandwidth. This may be a smart decision for any small or start-up company that is expected to grow in the near future, he said.

2.  Consider Scalability.  Future growth of the business presents another consideration: scalability. Picking a VoIP solution that can be scaled as the business grows will be important, the article stated. A scalable system will allow the company to easily add and subtract IP telephony tools down the line. While  considering future growth, business executives need to determine what equipment their employees need at the present time to allow them to use VoIP, the article stated. This includes headsets, software, and business VoIP phones.

3.  Onsite or Cloud based?  A major consideration will be determining if the company wants an on-premise system or one that is a hosted PBX phone system. According to Kolssak, hosted PBX systems may best suit companies with a limited number of users, as  a hosted solution could save those small companies with a limited staff the hassle of managing the system.

If a company does not take the time to consider these factors to find the best solution or provide the necessary infrastructure that enables the system to function properly, problems could present themselves. Issues which are not necessarily the fault of the system provider or vendor, but often have to do with internal operations. For instance, an improperly configured internal network could mean VoIP traffic and call quality can suffer. If a company does not ensure  its current network can handle the increase in communication and data that comes online with VoIP, it will not be able to truly benefit from the technology.

Considering VoIP phone systems for your small business?  Let us do the heavy lifting so you can concentrate on your business.  Contact TURNkey IT for a free evaluation at 866-928-8208.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

1 - 3% of annual sales should be devoted to Technology

Small and Medium sized business cannot perform without robust and reliable IT.  IT has become an essential component of business. Without systems that meet business needs, a company will likely fail. As such, small businesses should be putting aside 1 - 3% of their annual sales for IT maintenance and improvements.  One of these considerations could be utilization of “the cloud”. 

When you consider moving to the cloud,  here are several questions you should ask your provider. 

  1. What are the fees associated with the service?  What is the fee structure?  Do you pay by data stored?  Resources utilized? Your company is growing…make sure you understand the impact of your growth on the service procured.
  2. How does your data security work? Security of data in the cloud is always a top issue for all businesses. Before committing, It's a good idea to get a picture of where exactly your data will be stored, who has access to it and the  level of storage security.
  3. What is your performance and availability? There were many instances of outages and intrusions affecting cloud services in 2012.  While few lasted more than half a day, this got many questioning just how stable the cloud is. When talking to cloud providers you should ask them what their uptime guarantees are and if their cloud is scalable - if you need more computing resources, are they available?
  4. Are my systems compatible with your service? As a small or medium business, you likely don't have the funds to do a one-time, full transition into the cloud. This means, that it would be a good idea to ask cloud providers if their systems are compatible with yours and if you will be able to easily migrate your data over. Beyond that, you should also ask if you can get your systems off the cloud.
  5. What is your support policy? As you will likely not be hosting a cloud server in your office, you will be at the mercy of the provider. It's advisable to review their support policy, such as whether they have a dedicated emergency contact and the general response time to issues and inquiries.

Finding the right cloud provider doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Asking the right questions, comparing what different providers say and finally comparing the findings against your needs, should help you find the perfect provider. If you're interested in learning more about cloud services and how they can be employed in your business, why not start with us at TURNkey IT? We can help find a solution for you plus a whole lot more.