Monthly Archives: April 2010

  • Arbor Day

    April 30, 2010 - Leave a Comment

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    Today is Arbor Day, a holiday celebrated around the world. In the United States, Arbor Day was founded in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

    Here are some suggestions on how to celebrate Arbor Day this year from www.ArborDay.org:

    Celebration Ideas

    Group Celebrations

    • Raise the flag, strike up the band, make Arbor Day fun. Make it memorable.
    • Organize a beautification project in a public area.
    • Get people into action. Ask a civic or service group to promote a paper drive to gather paper to be recycled and save a tree. Use the proceeds to buy a special tree to plant in a park or other special public place.
    • Hold a poster contest, or a poetry contest.
    • Sponsor a children’s pageant or play.
    • Fill the air with music. Have an Arbor Day concert of songs about trees, or with tree names in their titles.
    • Sponsor a tree trivia contest. Give away trees to winners.
    • Conduct a tree search. Ask people to find large, unusual or historic trees in your community. Once the results are in, publish a map that highlights the winners, or hold a walk showcasing them.
    • Tell people to take a hike — a tree identification hike — and have girl scouts or boy scouts act as guides.
    • Dedicate a forest, or a tree, or a flower bed in a park, and make it an occasion to talk about stewardship. Get a local nursery or garden center to hold an open house or field day. Organize an Arbor Day Fair.
    • Encourage neighborhood organizations to hold block parties and get their members to adopt and care for street trees in front of their homes. Pass out buttons. Give away trees.

    Individual Celebration

    • Celebrate Arbor Day in a personal way by planting a tree yourself. It is an act of optimism and kindness, a labor of love and a commitment to stewardship.
    • Read a book about trees. Learn to identify trees in your yard and neighborhood.
    • Enjoy the outdoors. Visit a local park or take a nature hike.
    • Attend a class on tree and plant care.
    • Volunteer with a local tree-planting organization. You’ll meet new people and make a difference in your community.

    For more history about Arbor Day: http://www.arborday.org/arborday/history.cfm

    To find out how you can get involved: http://www.arborday.org/arborday/

  • Site of the Week: TwinStrata

    April 29, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    TwinStrata is a pioneer in the Cloud Storage Enablement (CSE) market with the industry’s first purpose-built architecture and software solution to enable Intelligent Storage Clouds (ISC). ISC deliver simple, affordable and secure storage solutions to enterprise environments. TwinStrata’s solutions address the business need for on-demand IT services, providing new levels of business agility, efficiency, IT alignment and cost management for protecting and managing the growth of business application data.

    “Cloud enablement solutions, like the one TwinStrata offers, will help accelerate corporate cloud storage adoption,” said Terri McClure, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. “Companies can realize the availability, security and performance characteristics of local storage, without the capital investment and overhead of housing and managing storage themselves.”

    “TwinStrata is working with customers around the world and with industry-leading global technology companies to define and develop intelligent storage cloud architectures and solutions,” said TwinStrata CEO & Co-Founder Nicos Vekiarides.

     

    Here’s some additional information about Intelligent Storage Clouds from TwinStrata:

    What is an Intelligent Storage Cloud?

    Intelligent Storage Cloud services typically include Compute Anywhere™ application accessibility, seamless application integration, data replication, remote mirroring, data sharing, caching, zero-footprint snapshots, compression and security.

    What does an Intelligent Storage Cloud provide?

    An Intelligent Storage Cloud is an infinitely expandable and dynamic resource that provides the convenience and affordability of cloud storage without security risk or performance limitations.

    How does an Intelligent Storage Cloud get delivered?

    Intelligent Storage Cloud services are delivered through a best-of-breed solution offering that combines Cloud Storage Providers (CSP) with Cloud Storage Enablement (CSE) Providers and Cloud Storage Solution (CSS) Providers. This delivery model provides end users with partner choice options at each of the three layers to optimize the value of cloud based storage solutions.

    For a list of companies TwinStrata is working with, see the CloudArray Storage Ecosystem Partners list.

    What is Cloud Storage Enablement?

    A transformational category of a new, intelligent storage cloud solution required to meet the demands for a secure, easy-to-manage, low-cost, scale-as-you-grow storage solution in order to replace legacy storage infrastructures. Cloud Storage Enablement (CSE) combine with Cloud Storage Providers (CSP) and Cloud Storage Solution (CSS) Providers to deliver the Intelligent Storage Cloud.

    Why the need for Intelligent Storage Clouds?

    • Legacy storage environments have become increasingly complex causing companies to rethink storage environment
    • Mid size enterprises are administratively constrained
    • Information growth is straining resources (floors pace, power, cooling, manpower)
    • Storage service providers are cost effective, bandwidth is ubiquitous, outsourcing storage for specific functions is a realistic alternative to deal with challenges
    • Companies are assessing the challenge of justifying infrastructure refresh costs or choosing an alternative cloud model

    For more information, visit TwinStrata at www.TwinStrata.com

  • 10 Computer Shortcuts, Tricks & Tips to Simplify Your Life

    April 28, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    I received the following computer tips in an email from the folks at www.HomeAway.com.  If you are looking to rent a vacation home go to www.HomeAway.com or www.VRBO.com and you can find vacation rentals all over the world.  To read the entire article of computer shortcuts, click on the following link: http://www.homeaway.com/info/ownercommunity/renting-101/advertising-and-marketing/computer-shortcuts?cid=E_OCAprNewsletter_NL_O_20100427_top10_text_LOC_

    10 Computer Shortcuts, Tricks & Tips to Simplify Your Life

     
    Your browser may not support display of this image. Let’s be frank—  computers are complicated. Eureka moments are followed by disappointment when you realize you’ve been doing everything the hard way. We know firsthand how infuriating this can be, which inspired us to get together and come up with 10 must-have shortcuts, tricks and tips that will make your computer habits much more time effective and enjoyable. And who knows, you may even teach your kids a thing or two!

     
    1) Word Finder

    Word finder will locate any word or phrase within a document. Thankfully, this shortcut also works on Internet pages. Instead of skimming through a webpage with copious text, try your shortcut here. 
     
    Windows: Ctrl + F (This means hold down Ctrl, then hit F.) 
    Mac: Apple key + F 
    Tip: You can also access word find in Microsoft Word through Edit > Find

    2) Copy and Paste

    Copy and paste go together like peanut butter and jelly, so we’re including them here as one tip. If you haven’t already learned to use copy and paste, the time is now. This time-saving trick eliminates the headache of toggling between documents to make sure you transcribed the exact wording. Besides, not learning this trick is the fastest way to get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! 
     
    Say you write an excellent description in Microsoft Word. Later, when you are building your personal website, you want to include that text on your site. Instead of retyping everything exactly as you had it before, copy the text in Microsoft Word and then paste it wherever it needs to go (in this case, a web browser like Internet Explorer). 
     
    Hint: People often use their mouse to highlight the text and Edit > Copy in the dropdown menu. Use our quick keyboard shortcuts below to save yourself even more time.  
     
    Windows: 
    Copy: Highlight text with mouse + Ctrl + C  
    Paste: Highlight text with mouse + Ctrl + V  
    (Or highlight text with mouse + right click)  
    Mac: 
    Copy: Highlight text with mouse + Apple key + C  
    Paste: Highlight text with mouse + Apple key + V

    3) Show Desktop

    The show desktop shortcut minimizes all open windows at once and shows only your desktop. This is especially handy if you need to access something you’ve just downloaded. 
     
    Note: some versions of Windows have a built-in show desktop icon in the tray table.  
     
    Windows: Windows key + D  
    Mac: F11

    4) Screen Capture

    Screen capture does exactly what it sounds like— it takes a shot of your computer screen as it appears in that moment, complete with the cursor, task bar, clock, and anything else appearing on the monitor. This shortcut is generally underrated and unfortunately, most people don’t think they need it until they can’t live without it. 
     
    Sometimes you will receive a PDF document that cannot be edited or saved. In this case, you could use a screen capture of the document and save it as an image file. Just be sure there’s nothing too incriminating in your task bar at the bottom of your screen— that will show up in the shot too! 
     
    Windows: PrtScn. Open Paint > File > New > Edit > Paste 
    Mac: Apple key + Shift + 3. Open Paintbrush > File > New > Edit > Paste

    5) Spell Check

    Rushed typing and difficulty navigating the keyboard— not an inability to spell or write— are the culprits here. We teach owners to be wary of inquiries with typos and grammatical errors, but we’ve got news— the negative perception of bad grammar goes both ways. If your responses resemble a 14-year-old’s text message in any way, it’s time to reevaluate the quality of your correspondence. 
     
    Fortunately, this is a simple fix. Start by downloading Firefox, which is an Internet browser by Mozilla. It will automatically spell check everything you type while you are on the Internet. Firefox follows the same format as Microsoft Word, which highlights typos with a red squiggly line. You simply right click the word and it will suggest a new spelling. Not only will your e-mails finally exhibit flawless spelling, but any contact form or message board you type text into will also be checked. 
     
    Hint: If you use Outlook for e-mail, there’s an option to turn spell check on before sending. You can find it under Tools > Options > Spelling > Always check spelling before sending.  
     
    Windows & Mac: Download Firefox here

    6) Zoom In and Out

    “Why is this font so small?” “I can barely read this!” “Is this font gray or black?” Does this sound like you? The bad news is, it’s not the screen. The good news is, your computer doubles as a set of glasses. Ah, the power of technology! 
     
    Most programs will allow you to zoom in and out of each page easily and efficiently, while preserving the quality of the page. With just two simple keystrokes, you’ll wonder how you lived your whole life without ever knowing this super simple shortcut. It might even save you the hassle of paying a visit to the eye doctor. 
     
    Hint: This keyboard shortcut won’t work in Microsoft Word. To zoom in Word go to View > Zoom  
     
    Windows:  
    Zoom in: Ctrl + +  
    Zoom out: Ctrl + - 
    Mac:  
    Zoom in: Apple key + +  
    Zoom out: Apple key + -

    7) Quick Calendar View

    To pop a quick sneak peek at a calendar, open your computer’s time display to pop up a full calendar. You can see any month and any year, past or present, you desire. 
     
    Hint: Be sure to click “cancel” after you are done, or you will be in for a big surprise when you wake up tomorrow and it’s 2012!  
     
    Windows: Double-click clock display 
    Mac: Click clock display > Open date & time

    8) Highlight Text

    Among the most finicky of computer hardware is the mouse (on a desktop) and the touchpad (on a laptop). It’s a problem you, no doubt, face everyday— you’re trying to highlight one sentence and it keeps giving you part of another sentence. Talk about a headache! Fortunately, you can use your keyboard to thwart this problem before it rises to migraine-level frustration. We strongly recommend this keyboard shortcut over your mouse in this case, as it is much more precise. 
     
    Windows: Hold down Shift + arrow key in the direction you want to highlight. 
    Mac: Hold down Shift + arrow key in the direction you want to highlight.

    9) Google Calculator

    Okay, so maybe you have Gmail or even use Google as your preferred search engine. There’s so much more you can do with Google than just e-mail and searching—  most notably, you can use it as a calculator. And we’re not talking about your everyday bill-paying calculator. You can do everything from simple addition to pre-calculus. You can even convert standard measurements in Google’s calculator. 
     
    Windows & Mac: Type equation into Google. For example, 4*3 will yield a result of 12. Type in “16 oz in lbs” and it will show you the conversion of 1lb.

    10) HELP!

    Just when you think all hope is lost and you want to throw your computer out the window, there’s even a shortcut for that! No, it’s not the “escape”  button (although that may seem tempting). No matter what program you are in, you can call upon your computer to pop up a help tool featuring assistance, training and frequently asked questions. 
     
    Windows: F1  
    Mac: Apple key + Shift + ? 
     
    By using these 10 simple shortcuts and tips, you’ll be able to navigate your computer much more quickly and confidently. With all the extra time you save, you can get back to the really important tasks, like doing dishes and raking the lawn. Unfortunately, we don’t have a shortcut for that.

  • Article of the Week: Mike and Pat’s Travels

    April 23, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    This week, we’re highlighting Mike and Pat McFall’s blog post as our article of the week. Mike and Pat recently purchased a zBoost YX510 for their home in Arizona. In addition to blogging about their travels, With the zBoost, Mike and Pat have cell phone coverage and are able to keep up with their business, selling PressurePro Tire Monitoring Systems.

    Mike

    “Our phone service was lousy and dropped calls constantly. This wouldn't work with us, as we continue to sell PressurePro Tire Monitoring Systems and PowerTank's like hot cakes.   We had to come up with a solution.  So I started looking and talking and reading. I talked with my neighbor and good friend Bill Jones, who now just lives a few houses away.  He said come on over and I'll show you what will work.  Bill showed me his zBoost.”

    To read more of Mike and Pat’s Travels- click here.

  • Recipe of the Month-Fettuccine Alfredo

    April 21, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    This month's recipe is one of my personal recipes that I got from my Mom. It's a quick alfredo sauce that's always a fan favorite. It's simple, and you make it your own by adding chicken or shrimp to add some protein.

    Fettuccine alfredo

    Ingredients:

    Box of fettuccine
    9 tbsp butter
    1 ½ cups heavy cream
    1 ½ cups parmesan cheese
    ½ tsp salt

    Steps

    1. Follow box's instructions and cook  the fettuccine. Once it's cooked, drain and take off heat. Keep it in the pot you cooked it in.

    2. Melt the butter, add heavy cream, and bring to boil. You MUST stir the whole time. Once you've reached a boil, turn the heat to low and continue cooking for  5 minutes-- stirring the entire time.  

    3. Take cream and butter mix off of the heat. Add cheese to this mix and stir together. The cheese will melt into it.

    4. Pour the alfredo sauce over the cooked fettuccine and mix together.

    5. Enjoy :)

  • Wi-Ex Signal Booster Giveaway Contest with SkatterTech!

    April 19, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    Visit SkatterTech to enter to win a zBoost YX300! (This link will be available at 11 AM Pacific Time)

  • Spring Cleaning at Work

    April 16, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    Spring Cleaning isn’t just for your house. Whether you can relate to any of the following or not, it’s time to “spring clean” your computer AND/OR your iphone or equivalent.

    1. Your computer desktop screen image could be relabeled “Sasquatch” – you are pretty sure it exists, but really can’t get a good look at it—it’s underneath all those desktop shortcuts, program downloads and files.
    2. When accessing your mailbox, it takes minutes to upload the over 1000 messages in your inbox -   some are so old, they include the video from Baja’s remake of “Who Let the Dogs Out” (2000).  (Still a favorite for 6 year olds and UGA Bulldog fans)!
    3. You thought it was odd that your computer included a program called “defrag” – clearly some game from the PBS “Fraggle Rock” children series – nothing you need to “play”.
    4. You think your computer is haunted because applications shut down mysteriously and sometimes reboot your machine.
    5. You have had a visit from the blue screen “fairy” and your computer went dead.  The fairy is clearly a minion sent by the people that provide us back-up drives and security software.

    Start cleaning:  We’ll start at # 5 above and count backwards -

    1. If you have ever had a Blue Screen Fairy visit, then you know that the most important thing to do is backup your files. Do it daily, weekly, monthly or yearly – To quote Nike – “Just Do It.” I use a Seagate Passport and love it.  Buy one, plug it into your computer and follow the instructions. This may take some time the first time, so it might be a good time for a coffee break – you’ll have time to brew a couple of pots, the first time you back up.  a.) At this time- it’s probably a good time to download a free anti-virus software program – if you don’t already have one.
    2. After backing up your computer, it’s time to clean up all those old pictures, videos and old large corporate files .  You probably don’t need to be storing 5 years of family photos and videos on your computer.  And, when was the last time you accessed that 16Mb, memory-hogging, 3-year-old ppt presentation.  Make sure they are stored on the Seagate hard drive, then delete them and free-up a couple of gigs of memory from your computer. 
    3. On my machine, I find this program by going into  ”control panel”  then “administrative tools,” then “storage management” – it may vary, but most machine come with a Defrag program.  Run defrag—Again this is time consuming – but it will make your computer more efficient and faster.  Time for more coffee – maybe it needs to be made “Irish” – I am part Irish. :)
    4. Use folders and subfolders to store messages and files on your computer.  Think of your computer like a filing cabinet or a desk.  Would you really just put file folders and documents all over the top of it?  Not likely.  If you have never used folders – start now.  I know it’s time-consuming, but it will make future cleaning and searching go faster.  When I get behind and overwhelmed by the thought of this task, I have occasionally labeled some folders by month or season or desperately, by year, and moved everything from that time into it.   (It’s not the best system, but it’s a start.)   

     

    When you have cleaned up your computer, like other spring cleaning – it feels great!

  • Site of the Week: NoPhoneTrees.com

    April 15, 2010 - Leave a Comment

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    If you are one of the many people that get annoyed by the automated robots that handle customer service phone lines these days then this site of the week is dedicated to you!

    With the “No Phone Trees” site you can look up direct numbers to customer service representatives without having to tell your life story to a robot first.

    So next time you are on the phone with a computer that has no idea what you are saying pull up www.nophonetrees.com and try to get connected in a different way- with an actual person!

  • Locating an Office in Your Home

    April 13, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    As more and more of us teleworker (me included) setting up your home office can be quite a challenge.  This article from Fox Business addresses many key issues except one critical factor.  Do you receive cell service in the area you have selected for your new home office?  My next door neighbor renovated her basement and built a state of the art office only to find out that she did not receive a cell phone signal in her new $15,000+ designer office.  At first, she transferred her cell to her home phone but eventually she found herself working at her kitchen table, abandoning her beautiful new office.  If only she had a zBoost Dual Band for Home and Office…

    FOX Business

    Excerpts from "Things to Consider When Choosing Where to Locate an Office in Your Home".  To see the full article go to:

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/things-consider-choosing-locate-office-home/  

    The Telework Research Network estimates 20 to 30 million people in the United States work from home at least one day a week. That’s a lot of bedrooms and basements being transformed into home offices. If you’re one of the many self-employed or telecommuting workers searching for space in your home in which to set up an office, you need to analyze the space available to make sure it’s suitable for an office. While you may be able to commandeer a closet or take over one end of the dining room table and call it your home office, choosing a space that meets all your office needs can save you aggravation and even money.

    If your home is your primary place of business, you may qualify for a home office deduction on your income tax return. This allows you to deduct a percentage of your utilities, homeowner’s insurance and other expenses as a business expense for tax purposes.

    Client Access

    The location of your office may depend on whether or not you’ll be seeing clients in your home. “If you have clients that need to come to your office once in a while, you will want to make sure that you have a professional looking workspace and consider the rooms that they need to go through in order to get to your office,” says Diana Ennen, President, Virtual World Publishing and author of, So You Want to Be a Work at Home Mom.

    Privacy

    Even if clients never come to your home office, you need a quiet, private space to work. Michael Bechara, CPA, Managing Director of the Granite Consulting Group in New York, advises locating a home office some distance from the home phone and children’s playrooms. “It’s best to be on a separate floor of the home if possible,”  Bechara says. “Even if you are in a separate room, if there are other people in the house on the same floor the voice will carry and there is the risk that someone will barge in to your office accidentally. A basement or attic office would be ideal.”

    Utilities

    Where you locate your office may be dependent upon availability of a phone line, internet, fax line or even cable television, if you need these for your work. If these utilities aren’t already in place, such as in a basement, attic or garage conversion, you’ll need to add the cost of getting them to your office into the cost of setting up your work space. You also need to make sure your proposed office space has enough outlets to accommodate all your office equipment.

    Light

    “You want a room with lots of light,” Ennen says. The Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University surveyed 25 studies which showed that better lighting improved productivity in offices.  Ennen warns against placing a computer next to a window, since glare from strong sunlight can make it impossible to work. Blinds and drapes can’t always block the glare.

  • Verizon Wireless and Skype create Skype Mobile

    April 9, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    Exciting news for all Verizon Wireless smartphone users—Verizon and Skype have teamed up to provide a free mobile app! At CTIA Wireless 2010 in Las Vegas, Verizon and Skype announced Skype Mobile, a new application, which has been available since March 25th. Skype Mobile uses the Verizon Wireless voice network for the wireless connection for Skype-to-Skype calls.

    Skype mobile gives Verizon Wireless smartphone users with data plans a new way to stay in touch with friends and family, no matter where they are in the world. Skype Mobile users are able to:

    • Make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls to any Skype contact around the globe
    • Send and receive unlimited instant messages with other Skype users
    • Manage the Skype contact list directly from the mobile application
    • Call international phone numbers at competitive Skype calling rates

    The only things Verizon Wireless users need to use Skype Mobile are smartphones and a data plans. Skype-to-Skype calls will not be charged against their monthly minute allowance or data plans.

     

    To download this app:

    -From a PC visit: www.verizonwireless.com/skypemobile or www.skype.com/go/mobile.

    -Verizon Wireless users can also text “SKYPE” to 2255 and receive a link.         

    -Android users can download the app from the Android Market.

    -New Blackberry customers will find the app on their 3G smartphones’ home screens once they’re activated.

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