Home Office

  • Cell Phone User Statistics

    August 16, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    The Pew Research Center has released a new report titled Americans and Their Cell Phones.  With cell phone use and ownership continually rising, the survey finds a topic that applies to all of us.  Whether you are guilty of sending and receiving text, pictures, or video messages or just using your phone to avoid an awkward interaction with others, this report offers a statistic for all of these aspects of cell phone use.  A few of the stats really caught my eye as a smart phone user.

    • 42% of cell owners used their phone for entertainment when they were bored.  I am guilty of using my smart phone as entertainment while I’m waiting in line, listening to a particularly boring lecture, or when there is nothing on TV.
    •  20% of cell owners experienced frustration because their phone was taking too long to download something.
    • 51% of adult cell owners have used their phone at least one time to get information they needed immediately.   Let us not forget about those heated family or friend debates!  You need facts to help prove your side of the argument, or even just to squash that family quarrel between your mother and brother.

    I do not have to worry about the frustration of cell phone ownership because of my zBoost cell phone signal booster.  My zBoost has helped me in every one of these scenarios from boredom to frustration!  Not only does it relieve me from upload and download delays, but I never have to worry about not receiving or dropping important calls.

    To read Americans and Their Cell Phones in its entirety for all cell phone stats click here.

  • 10 Organization Tips

    August 8, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    How important is being able to organize well in your daily life?  The importance will vary depending on a person’s personality and life involvement.  As a university student who is carrying a full course load and interning with Wi-Ex, organization is a must!  Between due dates for school papers or projects and deadlines at work, I have to be organized to keep it all straight.  We all know that person, whether it be a fellow classmate, teammate, or coworker, that seems to wait until the last minute because “they forgot” or “lost track of the work”.  We also all know that person where everything has to be “perfect” all the time.  Both of these personalities can be exhausting!  We all need to find that balance between perfection and disorganization in order to navigate work and life efficiently and with minimal stress.  Oprah.com listed the “10 habits of highly organized people” to help us all work towards or achieve that perfect balance to keeping on track in life.

    (Oprah.com) – To read full article click here.
    1. Walk away from bargains

    2. Make peace with imperfection
    Oprah.com : How to stop being perfect all the time

    3. Never label anything "miscellaneous"

    4. Schedule regular decluttering sessions
    Oprah.com: Peter Walsh's 3 rules for getting organized this summer

    5. Stick with what works

    6. Create a dump zone

    7. Ask for help
    Oprah.com: When to ask for help -- and how to do it

    8. Separate emotions from possessions

    9. Foresee (and avoid) problems

    10. Know where to donate

    To read the full article click here.

  • PC World Shows You How to Work Outdoors

    July 12, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    While the Georgia heat has us all indoors, some of you may be looking for ways to take your work outside.

    PC World gives you some good tips on making the most of workout outdoors including boosting your signal with zBoost.

    How to Work Outdoors

    By Christopher NullPCWorld

    How to Work OutdoorsLaptops, tablets, and smartphones are supposed to make us mobile: Freed of cumbersome desktop technology, we can work anywhere we want. Why, then, don't you see legions of people at parks, beaches, or even sidewalk cafes typing away on their laptops? Mainly because they simply can't see their screens.

    It doesn't have to be this way. A little planning and know-how can get you ahead of the game when it comes to using your gadgetry outside. Whether you're reading ebooks on your iPhone or sneaking in a few work emails while the kids build a sand castle, here's how best to set yourself up to work alongside Mother Nature.

    Fall Into Shadow

    When working outdoors, shade is your friend. In fact, if you haven't prepared in advance for your outdoor adventure, it's pretty much all you've got. Your only hope to see anything on most LCD screens is to find some shade and dig deep into it.

    HoodmanThis portable, folding hood provides instant, deep shade.Anything can be used as shade in a pinch, from the obvious tree, umbrella, or side of a building to less evident objects, like a cast-off pizza box folded into a tent or, in a pinch, your own head. For head-shading, resist the urge to hold your laptop or mobile phone between you and the sun, thinking you'll block out the light like an eclipse: That simply won't work. Switch it around and put your head between the sun and the screen, so the shadow of your noggin falls on the display. This won't provide much shade, but, for limited use and with small screens like your phone, it will work well enough to at least read text.

    Get Shade Anywhere

    If working outside is going to be a regular thing for you, you might consider investing in a portable shade device that you can take with you as part of your travel kit. A company calledHoodman offers two clever covers that hook over your laptop's screen, shading it on all sides from sunlight while still giving you access to the keyboard. It looks a little strange--but no stranger than you will look working on your computer on the beach--and it works quite well. Best of all, the soft-sided shade collapses flat and stores easily in the included carrying case. Versions for Macs or PCs are available, both $40.

    Outdoor Out the Gate

    Fujitsu Stylistic Q550The field of outdoor-ready laptops is small, but it includes this Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 tablet.If you're a true outdoorsman, you may want to consider one of the small number of laptops that are available with so-called "indoor/outdoor" displays, designed for visibility inside or outside. When shopping, look for "I/O," "Outdoor View," or "Enhanced Outdoor" as part of the screen specs, or just ask--sometimes this key feature can be omitted completely from a list of a computer's specs.

    This technology has been especially popular with older-style tablet PCs as well as a few newer slate tablets. Some current devices that include the technology are the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550, the HP EliteBook 2760p, and most of the Panasonic Toughbookline.

    Compare and Contrast

    Using a high-contrast color scheme will improve your outdoor viewing experience, no matter how much shade you have, by turning your working experience into a black-and-white one that scrubs out many of the shades of gray (and splashes of color) to which office users are accustomed. The result is a stripped-down computing experience, but one that will make outdoor viewing considerably easier.

    Set contrast options in Windows 7.Windows’ high contrast themes aren’t the prettiest on the block, but they make outdoor operating easier.In Windows 7, open the Personalization Control Panel and scroll down a bit below the Aero Themes. You'll see the Basic and High Contrast Themes listed here. Experiment with the four high-contrast options to find the one that works the best for you--though adjusting to a white-on-black color scheme can be jarring and will take some acclimation time.

    Your LCD brightness should generally be set to the maximum available (though this will put more strain on your battery), and you might also consider increasing the text size by using the "Larger - 150%" setting on the home screen of the Display Control panel, to make things even easier to read.

    Get E-Inked

    Got a lot of reading to do but don't want to put it on paper? Electronic ink devices like Amazon's Kindle are perfect for this kind of work, since the reflective screen is designed to work without backlighting. The result: Text on a Kindle looks even better under bright light than in the dark.

    The newest Kindle can accept a wide variety of file formats, including Word, PDF, RTF, HTML, plain text, and various image formats for display on the device. Simply email the documents as attachments to the address noted on your Kindle's Settings page under "Device Email." Amazon offers copious additional details on the ins and outs of sending personal documents to your Kindle at this link. But remember that older Kindle models have different supported formats.

    Surf's Up, Sand's Out

    If your outdoor working adventure is taking you somewhere more exotic than the backyard, be sure to prepare for those twin menaces of all electronic devices, water and sand. Water is well understood as an electronic hazard, but sand can quickly brick anything with moving parts: A single grain of the stuff can kill your digital camera's zoom mechanism or prevent the shutter from opening and closing, not to mention scratching the screen of your tablet or laptop.

    Waterproof iPad case from TrendyDigitalBag your laptop, tablet, or cell phone with an instant waterproofing system like this one from Trendy Digital.Protection from the elements can be as simple as keeping your gadgets in a sealed Ziploc bag when they aren't in use, or as complicated as investing in a custom, ruggedized, waterproof case. A wide variety of cases for all manner of devices are available. You can check out brands like OtterBoxXGear, andTrendyDigital to get started.

    Now About That Web Connection...

    Seeing your screen is one thing. Getting online is another. In parks, on beaches, and even in backyards, getting a Wi-Fi or cellular signal can be a challenge. Short of petitioning your carrier to erect a cell phone tower closer to the waterfront, these tricks can increase your chances of getting a wireless signal from a remote location.

    Wi-Fi: If you're simply working in the backyard and are trying to access the Wi-Fi signal inside your house, you can accomplish this in a few ways. You can extend the signal outdoors by relocating your router near that side of the house or add a repeater to extend the signal outdoors. Aftermarket antennas can also be used with some routers to increase their signal strength, hopefully letting you reach your hammock in the gazebo with a Wi-Fi signal. If changing your router setup doesn't work, you can invest in a new Wi-Fi card for your laptop with an external, high-gain antenna, increasing your available range.

    WWAN: Again, if you're near home and outdoor cellular signal strength (either for voice or data usage) is no good, you can use a femtocell to boost the signal. Verizon's Wireless Network Extender and AT&T's MicroCell attach to your home broadband connection and act as a sort of mini tower. Femtocell range is typically under 150 feet, so locate the unit near the backyard.

    zBoostzBoost signal-boosting device.

    However, if you're in a public place and need a better signal, a few hacks can boost the number of bars you get on certain phones by one or two, although few of the hacks are very pretty. The website Wisebread experimented with an admittedly ugly wire-and-cans trick and claimed a three-bar improvement in a cellular signal. Rick Broida has some additional tips on the subject, including a discussion of zBoost, which is a more appropriate range-boosting solution for newer phones, MiFi units, and mobile hotspots--all of which increasingly lack the external antenna connector required for tricks like the cantenna described above.

    Don't Forget the Juice

    As a final consideration, remember that working outdoors usually means being disconnected from the grid, and since upping the contrast and other tweaks can drain your battery faster, you may find your laptop fading before your sunscreen does.

    The solution is simple, if on the expensive side: Upgrade to an extended-cell battery, using a "battery slice," which is a flat battery that locks onto the bottom of a laptop--or simply carry spare batteries with you to get considerably more running time when you're working remotely. For smaller devices such as cameras or dedicated voice recorders, rechargeable batteries generally provide more bang for the buck.

    More esoteric power solutions--like solar recharging systems--won't offer much help. Most of them just don't have the power required to provide much of a boost to anything beyond a cell phone or camera--and even then, their internal batteries will need to be charged before you head out.

    However, before draining your gadgets out in the wild, you can follow some proven tips to helpboost the battery life of your laptop and smartphone.

    Related Articles

    What gear and tricks do you use to work outside of the office? Please share your tips in the comments below. For more advice, see the following articles.

  • Article of the week: "5 Gadgets to Love: Products designed to overcome life's little problems"

    February 10, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    image The Parrot DIA digital photo frame allows you to upload photos via bluetooth—perfect for iPhone users.

    The annual Consumer Electronics Show is the biggest playground of cool gadgets on the planet. It’s where companies from across the globe choose to unveil their latest techno-gear. Of course, there was plenty of 3D this and that. Web tablets were everywhere. Connectivity between TVs and the Internet; kitchen appliances and the iPad … and everything else electronic was demonstrated and discussed at booth upon booth. These technologies hold great promise for the future, so they deserved the fanfare. However, there were plenty of smaller, less expensive, personal items, too. Here are a few of my favorite finds. They might not be super high tech or game changing, but they could definitely solve some of the little issues I have in my own home.

    Ever since my cell phone service provider upgraded to 3G (just a few weeks ago), I haven’t been able to make or take calls from inside my home. The bars just aren’t there. It’s extremely frustrating—not to mention cold—to have to stand inside my unheated sunroom to chat with my friends and family.

    The solution: zBoost from Wi-Ex. According to speed tests, the product can increase data speeds by as much as 180 percent. The YX545 model covers a 3,000-square foot home; $399.
    image

    I’ve been battling high blood pressure for about 13 years. Per doctor’s orders, I measure my BP every day (well, almost every day). I use a portable cuff with an attached reader. Takes 10 seconds to do—no biggie. I’m also supposed to keep a running tally of my readings. You’d think this would be easy too, but for some reason (I’ll blame the kids), the pencil and notepad I keep by my reader disappear mysteriously into thin air.

    The solution: iHealth Blood Pressure Monitoring System (http://www.ihealth99.com). Comprised of a hardware dock, blood pressure arm cuff, and the iHealth app, the system lets you record your readings onto your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad; $99.95, the app is free.
    image

    I received as a gift a couple of Christmases ago a digital photo frame. I really liked it at first, but after a month or so I was ready to pack it up. It did nothing but collect dust and test my patience. Loading pictures into the frame was a huge pain.

    The solution: DIA from Parrot. You can upload your photos onto the frame by just swiping your finger across your iPhone. Plus, the 10.4-inch frame is gorgeous; $500, available in February.
    Last year at one of my daughter’s swim meets I decided to finally put my camera to use and record one of her races. It was neck and neck the whole way; she ended up wining by fractions of a second. I ended up getting a great shot of the floor, the ceiling—basically everything but her—because with all the excitement I couldn’t keep my eyes behind the camera.

    Solution: Looxcie wearable video camera with LooxcieLive. Clipped around your ear, you can record video without having to grapple with a camera, plus, with the addition of LooxcieLive, you can stream the video via Wi-Fi to your friends and family as the action unfolds. Around $200.
    image
    My home office is my shrine. I don’t like people wandering in it; much less using my computer. But, as it’s the only PC with a built-in camera, my Facebook-addicted daughter can’t help but sneak in to video chat with her friends—way too often. I don’t mind the chatting part; just can stand people tinkering with my computer.

    Solution: ūmi telepresence system from Cisco. Connected to your TV and home network, the system lets you videoconference from the comfort of your living room—no PC necessary. The use of an HD camera (paired with and HDTV) ensures that the images are crisp and clear. Around $600.
    image

  • Wi-Ex xBoost SOHO YX545 Review- The Cell Phone Junkie

    February 7, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    We’ve done reviews on various Wi-Ex products over the past few years, and have been very pleased with the results in most of our testing.  The zBoost Metro allowed us to improve our range in an area where we couldn’t permanently run a dedicated antenna outside, and the zBoost YX510 let me make phone calls within my office for the first time on AT&T.  Now, Wi-Ex has continued on the success of it’s 500 series with the YX545, or SOHO, dual band repeater kit.  The SOHO is for consumers, extending the range of  devices operating on 800 and 1900 MHz frequency bands.  The YX545 SOHO is available for $399 from Wi-Ex. The products used in this review were provided by Wi-Ex.

    In the Box


    • zBoost SOHO Base Unit
    • Base Unit Antenna
    • Signal Antenna
    • Coax Cable
    • Power Supply
    • Signal Antenna Mounting Hardware

    Specifications

    PCS Band

    • Frequency  Uplink: 1850 to 1910 MHz, Downlink: 1930 to 1990 MHz
    • System Gain 60dB
    • PCS band supported A, D, B, E, F, C
    • Networks CDMA, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, EVDO, 1xRTT, UMTS, HSPA, 3G

    Cellular band

    • Frequency  Uplink: 824 to 849 MHz
    • Downlink: 869 to 894 MHz
    • System Gain 60dB
    • Cell band supported A, B, A’, B’
    • Networks CDMA, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, EVDO, 1xRTT, UMTS, HSPA, 3G

    General

    • Power Consumption – Power Supply Current 3W standby; 7W max signal – 5.0VDC, 2.0A Max
    • Wall Supply Input ; Voltage 100-240VAC, 50-60 Hz
    • Base Unit Size and Weight 5” x 7” x 1.25” – 9 oz.
    • Operating Conditions Indoor Use Only (40° – 105° F)

    About the zBoost SOHO

    • Increases indoor signal coverage-up to 3000 sq ft
    • Supports multiple users simultaneously
    • Compatible with all U.S. carriers and mobile devices using 800 & 1900 MHz (except Nextel/iDEN or 4G, 2100MHz phones)
    • Increases voice and data transmission
    • Decreases dropped or missed calls
    • Easy to set up – comes complete with everything you need
    • No cradle or connections to your phone
    • Extends phone battery life (uses less power when signal is stronger)
    • Protects the carrier network using patented technology

    Installation


    Similar to the YX510, the SOHO has 2 antennas that need to be installed, the signal antenna, and the base unit antenna.  Follow the setup instructions before permanently installing your antennas, and make sure that you can place calls near the window or wherever you plan to place the Signal Antenna. The base unit will only amplify signal that it receives at the signal antenna.  Using your cell phone, place a call near near the location you plan to install that signal antenna, to verify there is enough to be amplified.  I ran my cables over a drop ceiling and outside my office through an existing conduit hole.  This provided for an easy installation that is out of the way.

    First, mount the Signal Antenna in an attic or outside where you’ve determined you’ve got solid signal.  Use the mounting hardware to fasten the antenna securely, keeping it away from metal as much as possible.  A few tips: higher on a wall or outside window is usually better, use the attachments in order to create different viewing angles, and the signal antenna must be installed vertically with the coax coming out from the bottom of the antenna.  I chose to mount mine behind an exterior wall covered with EFIS.  The Styrofoam construction allowed for great signal to be pulled in, with the sight of the antenna.

    Then, connect the Base Unit Antenna and coax to the Base Unit and place it where you need signal. For the widest possible signal area, it is recommended that you position the Base Unit near the middle of a room or mount it on an interior wall. This Base Unit uses an omni-directional antenna that delivers signal in a circular pattern around the antenna. The zBoost SOHO does require vertical separation; the Signal Antenna and Base Unit Antenna should have at least 15 feet of  separation. Increasing separation of the 2 antennas will optimize the performance, and up to 40 feet horizontally will provide for optimal performance.  Keep the base unit at least 2 feet away from other cords or metal objects, including other wireless devices such as routers.

    Once everything is connected, plug in the power supply, and wait up to 60 seconds for the units to start broadcasting the signal.  Use the LED indicator and the chart below to ensure your unit is functioning properly.

    Use and Results

    The SOHO is rated to cover up to 3000 sq. feet in open areas based on signal level, placement of the antennas and building construction.  My tests yielded about a third, giving me reliable coverage throughout approximately 1200  square feet of office space with metal stud walls, and a base antenna mounted underneath a desk to give the necessary vertical separation.  Using the Verizon Blackberry Curve 8530, Sprint Blackberry Bold 9650 and the AT&T iPhone 4, signal increases when using the SOHO are noticeable, providing a 15-20dBm increase, and negating the need to be right on top of the antenna to make it useful.  Working in an area that has constantly been a struggle for me with AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, the SOHO reliably allows me to make and receive phone calls, as well as use the data connection on 1900mhz devices. The unit also enhances the 850mhz band, but this difference was less noticeable for me, as the Verizon service in my area is quite good.  Data speeds fluctuated a bit, but overall, were strong enough that each of the carriers consistently saw 1Mbps download, and 300-700 (depending on the carrier) upload.

    Overall

    For $400, the zBoost SOHO Cell Phone Signal Booster from Wi-Ex is a great home or office solution for those who need a “boost”.  The SOHO works as advertised, and allows phones to be used in areas that have poor service more reliably.

  • zBoost featured on MSNBC's Your Business

    January 18, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    The zBoost YX545 was featured this week on on MSNBC's Your Business "Small Biz Tech: Tools For Your Business"!

    http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/video/nybtools1101121000k2

    With so many products on display at CES, you may have a hard time figuring which ones may be the perfect fit for your business. Ramon Ray, the editor of smallbiztechnology.com, tells us which high-tech gadgets you should include in your office or on the road.

  • Holiday Profiles: On the Go Joe

    December 21, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    All On the Go Joes have one thing in common; they need to stay connected while on the road. It doesn't matter if the driving is a local carpool or taking an RV cross country, having a reliable cell signal is a necessity.
    In 2009, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove a collective 2.9 trillion miles. That's a lot of time spent behind the wheel, so give the On the Go Joe on your list the security of knowing that they have reliable cell service anywhere they might travel with a zBoost cell phone signal booster.
     

    zBoost zPocket (zP) - $119
    • Fits in your suitcase: Small size and easy set up is ideal for hotels, resorts, and remote locations
    • The boost you need: Increases signal and connection speed for cell phones and aircards
    • Personal space: Extends CellZone, 4-6 feet

    zBoost-METRO - $299
    • On the road living: Extends signal indoors for hotel rooms, executive apartments
    • Easy set-up: Antenna attaches to window with coverage up to 1,500 sq ft
    • Smartphone ready: Boosts 3G, Edge and aircards for multiple users and multiple carriers simultaneously

  • Wi-Ex will be at CEDIA EXPO 2010!

    September 7, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    Mark it down on your calendars-- Wi-Ex will be exhibiting at the CEDIA EXPO 2010 at the Georgia World Congress Center at Booth # 4012!

  • AJC: "Telework can work for you, too"; UPS Supports the First-ever Georgia Telework Week!

    August 26, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    Catherine Salvadore is a human resources manager at UPS corporate headquarters in Atlanta.  The following are a few excerpts from her article in the Opinions Section of the AJC to report back to the community how Teleworking worked for UPS.

    Telework can work for you, too
    http://www.ajc.com/opinion/telework-can-work-for-599688.html

    "After the launch of our pilot program, the results spoke for themselves:

    Productivity when working from home jumped by 17 percent, and 86 percent of UPS teleworkers agreed that job satisfaction improved when reporting to work without leaving home.

    Thanks to the work-life balance benefits of working from home, UPS also found that our teleworkers save an average 87 minutes a day by eliminating their commute, and they use that time to get more work done, spend time with family and exercise."

    In addition to being a great efficiency productivity booster for their employees, Catherine goes on to discuss the positive impact of teleworking on the environment, also.

    "By eliminating their commutes just a few times a month, the UPS teleworkers involved in the initial pilot program kept more than 46 tons of pollution out of the air we breathe over the course of a year.

    Not to mention the more than 93,000 vehicle miles eliminated from metro Atlanta’s roads, reducing congestion — the void that costs employers in the Atlanta region nearly $3 billion annually in lost productivity.

    With a recent survey showing that one-quarter of commuters in metro Atlanta do not telework, but believe that their job responsibilities would allow it, these programs can play an important role in relieving the strain on our region’s transportation resources and improving air quality."

    __________________________________________________________

    zBoost by Wi-Ex is a great tool for people and companies who use teleworking. The zBoost line of products provide cellular signal solutions to those who are unable to get a reliable signal in their homes, thus allowing them to stay connected to be more productive while teleworking. Wi-Ex provides an array of cell phone signal boosting products that suit everyone's needs. The YX540 SOHO, and the YX540 METRO, are the newest additions to our line:

    •   YX545 SOHO, is a home and office unit that boosts signal for up to 3000 sq feet.
    • YX540 METRO, is a signal booster for people who live in apartments, urban lofts, and metro areas. You are able to place the antenna on a window and boost up to 1500 sq feet.
  • Wi-Ex Launches zBoost-SOHO YX545

    August 3, 2010 - Leave a Comment

    Today, Wi-Ex is launching the zBoost-SOHO YX545.  The zBoost-SOHO YX545 is the next generation of the award-winning zBoost Dual Band YX510 and is available immediately.  The zBoost-SOHO YX545 is dual band (800MHz and 1900MHz) and allows consumers to take full advantage of voice, data and Internet services on their connected devices including 3G high-speed data and video, instant messaging, pictures and more - at home or in their personal workspace.

    The new zBoost-SOHO YX545 provides consumers with several product enhancements which will optimize their cell phone signal in-doors including:

    • More Bars: Up to 20 percent increase in signal strength over the zBoost Dual Band YX510 resulting in up to 3,000 square-feet of coverage
    • Smaller Footprint: New “low-profile” receiving antenna with a 3-5 dbi gain over the previous receiving antenna as well as a smaller base unit
    • Optimizing Software: Improved software allows the unit to recalculate and optimize itself every 24 hours
    • Easier Interface: Only one button on the unit to indicate that it is working properly

    Click here to read the more about Wi-Ex's launch of the YX545 SOHO!

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