Category Archives: Communication

Banning Office Email? Seriously?

imageGuest writer Melanie Slaugh reports on Thierry Breton’s (a past French Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry) startling suggestion – ban interoffice emails. Is he being unrealistic or, is he a forward thinker? Read on – see what you think.

Can you imagine a business without email? Well, a French technology company wants to change the way you do business. Citing an overabundance of spam and a lack of personal connections, the French IT services firm Atos Origin plans to ban interoffice emails within two years.

Instead of rigid, impersonal emails, employees will converse mostly through instant-messaging tools or wiki-like documents that can be edited by multiple users online.

“We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives,” said Atos CEO Thierry Breton, “At Atos Origin we are taking action now to reverse this trend.”

Breton gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which he stated that he hadn’t sent a work e-mail in three years. “If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message,” he told the newspaper. “Emails cannot replace the spoken word.”

Breton thinks that only 10% of the interoffice emails his employees receive are important or useful, the other 90% consisting of forwards and spam.

So far, the response to Breton’s efforts to cut down on extraneous emails has been positive in Athos Origin, with interoffice emails declining by 20% in the last six months.

“Atos’ decision … is perhaps the most ringing endorsement yet for the notion that email is being gradually phased out of [the workplace],” wrote BonitaSoft CEO Miguel Valdés Faura on the tech blog GigaOm. “It will be interesting to see how many other large scale organizations will follow in its footsteps over the next several years.”

Web-based email as a whole seems to be on the way out as companies and people grow more mobile. A study done by ComScore, Inc, indicated that the number of web-based emails declined by six percent in 2010, while mobile email increased by thirty six percent.

“Digital communication has evolved rapidly in the last few years with an ever-increasing number of ways for Internet users to communicate with one another,” said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile. “From PCs to mobile devices, whether its email, social media, IM or texting, consumers have many ways to communicate and can do so at any time and in any place. The decline in web-based email is a byproduct of these shifting dynamics and the increasing availability of on-demand communication options.”

Many email-smothered employees could very well accept the change with open arms, unless the rise in personalization also comes with a rising in face-to-face meetings or conference calls.

Author Bio:

Melanie Slaugh is enthusiastic about the growing prospects and opportunities of various industries and writing articles on various consumer goods and services as a freelance writer.

She writes extensively for internet service providers and also topics related to internet service providers in my area for presenting the consumers, the information they need to choose the right Internet package for them. She can be reached at slaugh.slaugh907 @ gmail.com.

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Filed under Collaboration, Communication, Email, Guest Writers

21,000 Free Printable Documents and Templates At FreePrintable.net

imageKevin Savetz is into free with his remarkable FreePrintable.net web site. Amazingly, there are 80 sites in the Free Printable network offering you, free of charge, over 21,000 printable documents and templates.

Note: Some premium printables will incur a charge.

There are so many freebies available on this site, that it would take page after page just to list them – so take a look at just some of the sample offerings in the graphics below.

Click on a graphic to increase the size to make viewing easier. Better yet, if your Internet browser has a Zoom feature, crank it up!

Free Printables 1

Free Printables 3 Free Printables 2

FreePrintable.net

Before you begin downloading, checkout the FAQ page where you will find instruction for getting the best out of Kevin’s printable documents and templates.

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Filed under Arts and Crafts, Communication, Free Documents and Templates, Freeware

Auslogics Internet Optimizer – Seriously NOT Ready For Prime Time

imageWhile not first amongst the “snake oil” applications available for download – Internet optimizers do hold a prominent place. Still, when I heard that Auslogics had recently released its version of an Internet optimizer, I thought I’d take it for a test drive.

After all (my logic went), I’m a fan of Auslogics which has a reputation for high quality applications – many of which are free – so, maybe this Internet optimizer actually works. Besides, what actually harm could it do.

As it turned out, it didn’t take very long to see the harm it could do.

The installation begins with the usual offer to install the convenient (NOT!) Ask Toolbar.

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First, I took advantage of the application’s offer to test my current connection speed…

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which outputted the following.

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Next, I scanned for suggested improvements. Scanning for optimized settings produces a comprehensive report which suggests settings you should consider changing. For this test, I accepted all of the recommended new parameters. 

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Accepting the recommendations is one click simple.

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Following a reboot, I retested my connection speed – which produced the following report. You’ll notice a marginal decrease in connection speed. In a real sense however, the difference is meaningless. Except as an indication, that despite the application’s promise, it simply didn’t meet my expectations.

That’s fair enough – this application is hardly the first I’ve tested that under delivered.

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In the following screen capture you’ll notice the application includes a built-in Rescue Center. I should point out though, that I never install an application without creating a restore point first. You’ll see shortly, why this is necessary.

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Following a restart of Firefox, I was shocked to discover that the application had reset the browser to its default settings. Some of which, in my view, are unsafe. And, effectively wiping out all of my personal customizations – which were considerable.

The following screen shot captures the new home page.

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Worse, the application had caused the reinstallation of ALL of my Firefox add-ons and reset ALL of the add-ons back to the default settings. I’ll repeat – some of which, in my view, are unsafe.

Totally unacceptable!!! The following screen capture shows the open connections to a number of the add-ons home pages.

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As I noted earlier, thankfully the application provides a recovery feature as indicated by the following graphic.

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The backup did, in fact, work flawlessly, but…..

Closing points:

This test was not a one shot deal. I reinstalled and retested this application four times and the results, as reported here, were more or less, identical.

Following the test, I read a number of reviews of this application elsewhere, and it was more than evident, that despite the strong recommendations in these pseudo reviews, the reviewers had not actually tested the application. Shame on them!

Curiously (or maybe not so curious), Auslogics does not provide a download link on their web site for this application. That’s a bloody good move in my estimation. This application should suffer a quick death.

Regular readers will know, that I generally do not post on applications that don’t meet what I consider to be reasonable standards. But, this application (despite its recovery feature), has the potential to seriously screw up a typical user’s browser – and so the posted review.

It’s not often that an application being tested will annoy me (consternation is part of the testing game) – but, this one seriously pissed me off.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Auslogics, Communication, Computer Tools, downloads, Firefox, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Network Tools, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

The Never Ending Debate: Does Social Belong in Business?

Guest writer Grace Kang takes a look at social media, and lays out a logical and persuasive case for employing social media tools as a business builder. 

imageThe term “social” may sound like it belongs anywhere but the office, but the truth is, the success of the world’s best businesses can be traced to their leadership’s reliance upon increasing their workers’ networking, relationships and and transparency.

Instead of having individual employees focused on completing tasks alone, by encouraging employees to expand their own networks formally and informally, businesses are able to leverage their employees’ communications for better growth. Business collaboration software and online tools can help make the process easier.

Why does social belong in business?

  • People everywhere are choosing to communicate through social media. In a survey by Central Desktop, the participants indicated that 49% were using document collaboration tools, 19% said internal social networking tools, 18% were using wikis, 9% using discussion threads, and 5% using activity feeds.
  • Social media is a great place to build long term relationships
  • It makes it easy to engage prospects and customers with games, contests and more. In the survey, 22% said they used social tools to connect with customers, and 18% to win customers.
  • Social software for business is getting better. To see the evolution of social collaboration tools, check out “The State of Social Collaboration”, a neat infographic that illustrates how social tools have changed since they were first introduced in the 1970’s.
  • Its only going to get bigger, and you need to be there.

Even if a business is physically spread out across the country or even the globe, using social networking within the organization can have a dramatic positive impact on the company’s current and future returns. Collaboration software and online project management meld together through Central Desktop, which is a social software for business that provides employees who are located at separate locations a cohesive means of sharing ideas, planning projects and ultimately adding value to their shared business.

As transparency increases between groups located on different continents and between business units and functional centers, efficiency also will increase. Concerns that would normally have to be fed up and down their respective feeding chains are shared immediately for a fast response from the appropriate personnel.

Avoiding triangulation, wherein a the party in need of assistance goes to a third party instead of the party who can actually assist him or her, reduces staff time devoted to a project while empowering employees to take ownership of their work. As a result, employees take more pride in their work, act more efficiently and are more likely to produce a high quality product.

Social Collaboration Promote Employee Ownership and Morale

Employee ownership of work also makes it easier to identify supply chain problems early on and correct them before they snowball into larger concerns. The increased communication between departments bleeds into increased communication within departments. Greater clarity of duties, concerns, issues and other tasks at all levels reduces the chances that employees will spend their time working on the wrong types of projects, while increasing employee morale.

Allowing employees to mingle at a virtual water cooler means fast tracking discussions of interdepartmental issues, so that resolutions can be found in a timely manner.

A business group located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, can benefit greatly from learning about the solution that a group located in New York City or Hong Kong implemented, rather than working to try to figure out a solution to the problem themselves, which would take more time that they may not have to spend on the problem. Business collaboration software and tools like Central Desktop are leading the way.

Bio:

Grace Kang is a writer for Central Desktop, the leading social collaboration software solution for mid to large sized businesses.

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Filed under Collaboration, Communication, Enterprise Applications, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Networking, Productivity Software, Social Networks, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Quackwatch And The Skeptics Society – Web Sites For Rationalists

imageI’ve just finished reading Dan Brown’s latest novel – The Lost Symbol. If you don’t recognize Brown, you’ll know who I mean when I tell you that’s he’s the author of The Da Vinci Code – a novel which was roundly criticized for its historical and scientific inaccuracies. Despite the criticism, the novel went on to become a best seller (80 Million copies sold), and a film which has racked up almost a Billon Dollars in ticket sales.

This latest novel is written in the same (Da Vinci Code) style – relying on social-science fiction to advance the plot. And, as in his earlier novels, Brown’s continued use of symbolic pseudo science – in this case, Noetic Science, (the theory that the Brain holds untapped extraordinary power), will be lapped up by those who bought into the mystical nonsense in The Da Vinci Code; Jesus had a wife, a family, and didn’t actually die by crucifixion.

I recall reading several years ago that “Roughly one out of six Canadians — and one out of eight Americans – believe that Jesus faked his death on the cross, got married, and had a family”. Very weird!

I have to admit – I had a minor struggle trying to comprehend why otherwise intelligent people are so ready to take Brown’s fictional representations as factual, and literally accurate. But only a minor struggle – given the large numbers of Internet users who are so easily convinced to act against their own best interests, by cyber criminals, I’m more than aware that peoples’ behavior is often stranger than fiction.

After finishing reading the novel, curiosity got the better of me, and I spent some time researching Noetic Science in an attempt to learn the mysteries involved in turning Lead into Gold.  Smile

In that journey, I discovered a couple of web sites, Quackwatch, and The Skeptics Society, that are worth considering as additions to your Bookmarks.

Quackwatch – From the site:

Quackwatch has grown considerably. To help visitors with special areas of interest, we maintain 22 additional sites for autism, chiropractic, dentistry, multilevel marketing, and many other hot topics. We are also closely affiliated with the National Council Against Health Fraud, which cosponsors our free weekly newsletter, and with Bioethics Watch, which highlights issues of questionable research on humans.

Our Internet Health Pilot site provides links to hundreds of reliable health sites. Our Casewatch site contains a large library of legal cases, licensing board actions, government sanctions, and regulatory actions against questionable medical products. These sites can be accessed through the “Visit Our Affiliated Sites” drop-down menu above. Their contents can be searched selectively with our WebGlimpse multi-site search engine or all at once through our Google search page.

The Skeptics Society – From the site:

The Skeptics Society is a scientific and educational organization of scholars, scientists, historians, magicians, professors and teachers, and anyone curious about controversial ideas, extraordinary claims, revolutionary ideas, and the promotion of science. Our mission is to serve as an educational tool for those seeking clarification and viewpoints on those controversial ideas and claims.

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Filed under Communication, Education, Living Life, Opinion, Personal Perspective, Recommended Web Sites

Billions Set To Watch The Royal Wedding On TV & Online

Guest writer David Samuel, who’s close to the action in the UK, gives us his take on the big day.

imageWhile most people in the UK are simply thankful for an extra bank holiday and extra beer drinking time, the rest of the world have embraced the royal fever and the Royal Family have certainly embraced social media.

No monarchy is as popular, and as well liked, as the Windsors right now. With a TV & Online audience set to topple the 2 billion mark, the question on everybody’s lips is – where will you be watching it?

Online & Social Media

Wise to the royal frenzy, Google have recently announced that the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, on April 29, will be streamed live on YouTube. The live stream is set to start at 0900 GMT with millions expected to login and watch it live. The music performed at the wedding ceremony will immediately be made available for download.

Viewers will also be able to follow all the action on Twitter, as well as download Royal apps leading up to the big event.

Television

Unless you switch your TV off on the day of the royal wedding, you’ll have a very hard time escaping it. To say the royal wedding will be a huge media event is a colossal understatement.

Every news organization worldwide, will be contending for position to broadcast the royal wedding live. Many electrical retailers have reported increased sales in TVs and projectors – with many splashing out on a new HD TV to watch the couple looking their royal best.

Street Party

The Brits certainly know how to party, and with the Prime Minister urging the nation to “get on and have fun” on the day of the royal wedding, most will gladly oblige. Over 4,000 applications for street parties have been requested in England and Wales on the day of the royal wedding. With 2 million expected to celebrate on the streets, so no excuses grab your Union Jack attire and join the fun.

Live

The famous Regent Street in London is now cloaked in Union Jack flags in preparation for the royal wedding. An extra 600,000 tourists, from home and overseas, are expected to congregate along the procession to get a glimpse of the royal couple.

3D TV

While many broadcasters were salivating at the thought of the first 3D royal wedding, it was soon ruled out by Buckingham Palace. Google once again, not missing a trick, expanded its Google Earth 3D imagery to include the entire route of wedding procession. Google declared that “With this new 3D data covering the royal procession route, you can indulge yourself in a “royals’-eye”.

The social media coverage of the royal wedding is unprecedented and, is “in line with the couple’s wishes to make the wedding as accessible as possible for as many people as want to participate,” stated Buckingham Palace.

The role of social media in the royal wedding highlights just how far media communication has developed. The wedding between Prince Charles and Dianna, 30 years ago, was only available on TV, with viewers now likely to be watching the event on television, or YouTube, while liaising with theirs on social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.

It really is a digital revolution and all that is left to do is wish the happy couple a happy future.

Biography:

David Samuel is an electronic media consultant, with over 13 years’ involvement with some of the leading electronic retailers. David’s awareness and market intelligence make him one of the best equipped experts around. While specialising in LCD TVs David’s knowledge covers a wider spectrum of consumer electronics.

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Filed under Communication, Connected Devices, FaceBook, Google, Interconnectivity, Social Networks, Windows Tips and Tools, YouTube

HTC EVO 3D Brings 3D Parallax to Smartphones

Smartphone 3D – a game changer, or just a passing fad? Guest writer Simon Drew takes a look.

imageWith the resurrection in 3D cinema in recent years with Hollywood hits like Avatar, there has been a big drive by electronics companies to extend the craze to other devices. 3D televisions are now becoming more commonplace and even 3D games consoles are available with the introduction of the Nintendo 3DS.

It is no surprise then that this ‘new’ technology should make its way into the world of mobile phones, and even less of a surprise that HTC would be one of the companies at the helm of this latest development.

Although 3D cinema has been around for several decades, the technology has not really existed until now to take it to a wider arena. The electronics industry is currently undergoing rapid development however, thanks to the ever increasing demand for the latest smartphone gadgetry, and now it is more than feasible to introduce this feature to the world of mobile telephony.

It should be noted that the 3D technology found on the HTC EVO 3D, as with its only current rival the LG Optimus 3D, does not work in the same way as 3D cinema. While the latter requires 3D glasses to be worn for the 3D effect to be achieved, this is no longer a requirement with the relatively recent development of parallax barrier displays.

This system works by placing an undetectable barrier between the user and the screen so that the screen image is only partially displayed. This results in each eye seeing a slightly different image and the resulting disparity being the cause of an apparent third dimension that does not truly exist. While this system means that 3D glasses are no longer required it does have one obvious drawback.

This drawback is that the 3D effect is only achieved when the screen is held at a certain viewing angle. For short term use this is fine, but unless you are able to maintain perfect positioning of your head and the phone screen for extended periods, this will only lead to frustration when trying to engage in longer activities like watching 3D movies.

This is a similar setback to the one found on early handheld colour devices such as the Sega Gamegear. While the Sega handheld console looked more spectacular on paper, it lost out to its monochromatic Nintendo Gameboy rival for this very same reason – the screen was only viewable if you held it in the correct position.

Perhaps this was part of Sega’s downfall as they certainly don’t enjoy the position that they once did in the gaming industry. Should HTC and LG be worried? Maybe, but probably not. Most owners of their smartphones are not impatient school children and both companies have more up their sleeves than just 3D smartphones.

However, it could be a deciding factor in whether or not 3D really takes off in the smartphone industry and becomes a well established niche like music phones or camera phones. There are, no doubt, a great many people who will be keen to get their hands on this latest technological development but, perhaps even more who will not be fully convinced until this drawback is ironed out.

Simon Drew is a Marketing Executive with MD Operations Ltd, an online marketing company based in the UK.

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Filed under cell phone, Communication, Connected Devices, Interconnectivity, Telephone