Computers:

 

 

Cloud Computing

Identity Security

Digital Communication

Integrated Learning

Test Prep Resources

College Students Digital Tools

Is 4G Right For Me?

Spring-Cleaning An Inbox

Clouds In The Forecast: Good News For Small Businesses

(NAPSI)—Anyone who’s ever started a business—or even just thought about it—knows that success often hinges on taking risks. That’s part of what makes running a small business so challenging, yet exciting.

Some small and medium-sized businesses are reducing risk by pursuing a new trend in computing, one that can significantly improve the way smaller companies operate. This trend is called “cloud computing,” and, according to recent Microsoft research, 12 percent of SMBs have used cloud services to help start their businesses.

Though the term “cloud” may seem a little confusing, it’s simply a way of accessing technology via the Internet. Think of all the benefits the Internet has brought to modern life—you can book movie tickets online; manage your bank account from anywhere; connect with friends through e-mail, phone calls and video chats; and do much more.

Similarly, the cloud has ushered in a host of benefits for SMBs, creating a technology revolution that provides access to enterprise-class software at a price tag most SMBs can afford. If you’ve ever wondered if cloud computing makes sense for your business, there are five key benefits you may care to consider:

• Reliability: With cloud services, you no longer have to worry about losing or accidentally erasing important files. Any document you work on in the cloud gets saved there, too, so you’ll always have access to that file.

• Mobility: The cloud “understands” that today’s business world is 24/7, global and mobile. That means when you use a business application in the cloud, you can access it from any computer and possibly from your mobile device, as well. By allowing remote access, the cloud helps businesses mobilize their employees and thus reduce operating costs.

• Flexibility: You can pay for cloud services in whichever way makes the most sense for your business, whether through a subscription or by purchasing a license for a suite of Web services.

• Efficiency: In many cases, using a cloud service can increase efficiency—videoconferencing can reduce time spent traveling, collaboration software can help employees share documents and communicate with one another, and simplified document storage options streamline administrative work.

• Integration: Some cloud services even work well alongside the software you’re already using and can provide enhanced capabilities to businesses that have already invested in on-premises software.

When the cloud has your small business covered, you’re more likely to weather a stormy economy successfully and brighten your company’s bottom line.

For more information on the cloud and business success, visit www.Microsoft.com/cloud.

 

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Identity Security At Your Fingertips

(NAPSI)—A recent international consumer survey conducted online by Harris Interactive shows that more than 42 percent of e-mail users in the U.S. have seen an increase in spam messages over the past year and they are most fearful that spam will lead to viruses and identity theft.

What To Do

There are, however, several steps you can take to address these threats. Here are a few to consider:

• Watch out for social networking spam. Spam posing as a message from a popular social network can be hard to spot. Always log in to your social networking site to reply to messages and add friends, rather than clicking on links from a suspect message.

• Know how to respond properly. Instead of responding to a spam message, you should report it to your e-mail service provider. You can typically do this by clicking on the suspect message and marking it as “spam.”

• Don’t click on links from e-mails you can’t completely trust. If you receive a message containing Web links that appears to be from your bank or a shopping site, instead of clicking on the links, go directly to the bank or shopping website to perform any activity.

• Keep your computer operating system and security software up to date. Even if you have good security software (anti-virus or anti-malware), it can’t protect you if it’s out of date. Enable the software to automatically update from the Internet.

• Install a dedicated anti-spam application. Simply having anti-virus software installed on your PC won’t protect you from spam messages. Be sure to install a separate anti-spam filter so only legitimate messages arrive in your in-box.

• See about new, free protection to keep yourself and your family or small business safe.

Who Can Help

A global leader in carrier-grade messaging security recently introduced the most accurate and easy-to-use free anti-spam software for consumers and small businesses. Available as a free download, the light-touch, easy-to-install application continuously filters e-mail and Web mail to eliminate spam and protect you against online identity theft or phishing and e-mail-borne viruses. Users now have the power to block, unblock and scan messages easily to determine their own level of protection and message delivery.

Unlike many other consumer anti-spam products, which are simply add-on components to other desktop security suites, Cloudmark DesktopOne is a dedicated e-mail anti-spam product created by a company that addresses the needs of the most demanding service provider environments to protect over a billion user accounts worldwide.

What You Get

• Constant E-mail Filtering—It continuously filters messages to stop even the most sophisticated spam, phishing and e-mail-borne virus attacks, even when your e-mail client or Web mail isn’t open on your desktop or when you log on to your accounts remotely.

• Fast, Easy Installation—It installs in seconds and detects existing e-mail accounts on the computer automatically so filtering can begin instantly.

• Protection Against New Threats—It adapts to the newest messaging threats and automatically provides protection within moments of their emergence.

The basic mode is free for individual users to filter one e-mail account into a single spam folder.

Learn More

For more information and to download the industry’s most accurate, free anti-spam solution, visit www.cloudmarkdesktop.com.

 

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 New Study Shows Americans' Dependency On Email And Do's And Don'ts For Digital Communication

(NAPSI)—More than ever before, people rely on digital communication, such as email, instant messaging (IM) and texting, to stay connected and get things done. And our evolving online behavior reveals a lot about our habits and values. A new survey conducted by Yahoo! Mail shows the average adult is highly invested in email, regularly using three email accounts—two for personal use and one for work use. The Yahoo! survey also finds a growing number of adults are “hooked” to their email, with two in three adults checking their email as soon as they wake up, up from only 41 percent last year.

“We’re wired 24/7—or at least many of us feel like we need to be, lest we miss something important at the office or what’s happening with family and friends. For better or worse, there is almost a compulsion to check in and be ‘in the know’ all the time,” noted Yahoo! Web Life Editor Heather Cabot.

The new survey, which polled more than 2,000 people in the United States, asked in-depth questions about email accounts and acceptable email behaviors. The key findings include:

People have multiple e-personalities: Yahoo! found that adults are heavily invested in email, with the average person having a total of about three email accounts, all of which are checked on a regular basis.

Breaking up is still hard to do: Thirteen percent of adults think it is appropriate to end a relationship via email, IM or text. The study also shows that men are more likely than women to end a relationship via email, IM or text.

We are snoops: One in five people admit to having read their significant other’s email without that person’s knowledge.

email appetizer: The majority of adults check email very frequently, with 48 percent checking their inboxes during meals.

You’re being judged: Many adults, especially women, have negatively judged someone based on an email, grammatical errors or even an email address.

The clock is ticking: Most adults believe there is a finite period of time in which someone can respond to an email. When it comes to personal mail, 86 percent of adults think an email should not go more than a week without a response.

Personal life at work: Sixty-eight percent of adults check personal email while at work.

iAppreciate it: Seventy percent of adults believe it’s OK to send thank-you cards/notes for gifts via email.

First email, then driver’s license: Eighty-one percent of adults would allow their child to have his or her own email account before the age of 15.

With more of our precious time spent online, it’s essential to find new ways to streamline our digital lives. Luckily, Yahoo! Mail provides apps to send large files via YouSendIt, view pictures, use PayPal and send Evites without leaving your inbox—making it easier to respond to emails and mind your manners.

 

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Increasing Graduation Rates Through Technology

(NAPSI)—Researchers may have good news for students, teachers, parents and anyone who cares about education in America. It’s been found that students in so-called “blended learning” environments with access to computer-assisted instruction and technology-integrated learning systems fare better than those in traditional classrooms. Fortunately, it’s a move many colleges can easily and affordably make.

That’s just as well, considering that although a higher-education degree is needed more than ever, college dropout rates are approaching 50 percent.

What The Colleges Can Do

Colorado State University recognizes that the growing demand for business education has intensified the need for upgraded technology. Its classrooms are laid out to encourage discussion and dialogue between students and faculty, and are supported by technology that enables seamless connectivity around the world.

The school’s leading distance MBA program serves students all over the globe and demands flexible technology solutions for faculty to interact with students.

“Some faculty have found innovative ways to use their HP tablets to grade student homework papers, then resubmit the documents back to students electronically,” said Jon Schroth, CSU College of Business, director of Information Technology.

Dr. Dave Berque at DePauw University found that in many classes, the content is hard to express with a keyboard—chemistry, for instance, or graphs or Japanese characters. His students use HP tablet PCs to take notes, solve problems and share solutions. The school currently offers the multitouch HP EliteBook 2740p Tablet PC.

By implementing tablets into the daily curriculum, DePauw University saw failure rates in many classes drop. In an introductory computer science class, for example, failure rates dropped from 14 to 1 percent. The university isn’t alone in its findings, as schools all over the country are truly seeing the benefits of tablet use in the classroom.

A school can maximize technology in the classroom several ways:

• Poll students in real time on tablets during lectures to ensure that they’re paying attention and understanding the lesson.

• Use tablets in courses that require characters and graphics that are hard to express with a keyboard.

• Grade student papers electronically so they can view corrections in real time.

• Swivel the screen to lie flat to write notes and for easier group collaboration.

 

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What Students Need To Know About The SAT And ACT

(NAPSI)—For most high school juniors, the SAT or ACT represents one of the most important stepping-stones between them and admission to the colleges of their choice.

Many students consider only one test—either the SAT or ACT—and as a result of geographical predominance and lack of information, they might be missing an opportunity to achieve their optimal score by taking the test best suited to their academic strengths.

The Difference

Historically, the SAT is the standard test on the West and East Coasts, while the ACT dominates the Midwest and South, but things are beginning to shift as more students realize they have the option of taking both tests. The main difference between the SAT and the ACT is that the latter measures the student’s knowledge learned in high school, whereas the SAT tries to determine “innate” abilities.

“Most schools accept both the SAT or ACT, except in rare cases, so the test a student decides to take shouldn’t be a deal breaker in admissions,” says Jake Becker, academic director at Grockit.com, a collaborative and social learning platform. “When trying to decide which test is right for you, I suggest taking a practice test in each and exploring the requirements of each school that you’re considering applying to.”

The ACT has four sections (English, Math, Science and Reading) and the SAT has three (Reading, Writing and Math). The SAT recently added Writing to the main exam after the majority of colleges started requiring the SAT Subject Test in Writing (SAT II) as part of the application.

The ACT does not require an essay as part of the main test but offers an optional one and it’s suggested that all students take it. The College Board also has SAT II Subject Tests that let students showcase their classroom-based knowledge in subjects such as Physics, Calculus or History, which the ACT does not offer.

“Students should consider their strengths and weaknesses in the different subjects available for the SAT II and compare them with the ACT to help decide which would be a better supplement to their application,” Becker added. “If a student has taken AP courses that align with one of the SAT Subject Tests, he or she might feel more confident taking that test. If these SAT II tests are daunting and won’t provide great scores, the ACT may be a better choice.”

Learn More

For more information and additional test prep resources, please visit www.Grockit.com. Use the code PREP at Grockit’s checkout for a 10 percent discount.

 

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Digital Tools Are Key For Today's Busy College Students

(NAPSI)—College students today have a lot of distractions, and challenging schedules make it even harder for them to focus.

A recent survey by Cengage Learning and Eduventures found that nearly half of today’s college students hold jobs and 30 percent report being distracted by external responsibilities such as raising families or by financial issues, like paying for school. On top of that, students are entering school lacking essential skills, which is significantly impacting their ability to study and focus.

Nevertheless, students and instructors agree that educational technology can help improve engagement and learning outcomes. In fact, 86 percent of students surveyed report that their academic engagement and learning outcomes have improved as they have increasingly used digital tools in their coursework. Help is on the way in the form of new educational technologies and digital tools.

One such technology is MindTap, a program of digital products and services that engages students through interactivity and offers instructors choice in content, platforms, devices and learning tools. Beyond an e-book, course delivery platform or Learning Management System, MindTap is the first in a new category of Personal Learning Experiences (PLEs).

The MindTap program offers a variety of digital learning apps and services. These customizable apps actively encourage students to interact with their course content, as well as with their peers and instructors. The flexible delivery platform also lets instructors and students incorporate open content in the context of the overall syllabus.

Students can tap into content from Cengage Learning’s Gale library databases. They can learn anytime and anywhere via multiple devices. They can also access multimedia content such as videos, podcasts and images.

According to Ken Baldauf, director, Program in Interdisciplinary Computing at Florida State University, “Interactive online tutorials, instructional videos, RSS news feeds and other online resources bring relevance to the course material.”

He continued, “My online learning community provides a platform for students to discuss course materials with me and each other anytime throughout the day. The classroom must extend beyond a physical location and set times to be accessible to students at their convenience.”

Students agree. The Cengage Learning/Eduventures survey showed that the majority of students who are employed full-time or part-time prefer more technology-based tools in the classroom. Demand for new educational technologies will likely grow along with students’ busy schedules.

For more information, visit www.cengage.com/mindtap.

 

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Oh Gee--Is 4G Right For Me?

(NAPSI)—If you are wondering what all the fuss over 4G networks and devices is all about, there’s good news.

For starters, you’re not alone—and as tech topics go, it’s not really that confusing once you become familiar with a few basic ideas. Here is a brief overview:

The Network

The “G” in this case stands for generation-as in generation of wireless technology. Developing the first generation resulted in making mobile phones widely available. The second generation, or 2G, made the switch to a digital format possible and text messaging on a wide scale feasible. The next generation—3G technology—made it possible for mobile devices to access enhanced information services such as websites and made smartphones more widely available.

For consumers, 4G mobile will be less about making phone calls-although it may help reception-and more about Internet access on portable computers and smartphones.

Sprint is currently a 4G network provider reaching 120 million potential users across the U.S. Some consumers will be able to use 4G technology for a home broadband connection without running any cable into their house. It can also be used for accessing the Internet on the go without having to be linked to a wireless hotspot.

In general, the connection speeds offered on a 4G network mean that with a compatible mobile device, consumers will be able to watch TV, scan the Internet or stream movies at speeds that they usually associate with a hardwired or cable connection.

Compatible Devices

Sprint has introduced 18 4G devices, 12 of which are commercially available today.

One device that is already getting lots of attention is the HTC EVO 4G. Recently, Good Housekeeping honored it with a Very Innovative Products—or VIP—Award. Popular Mechanics gave it its Breakthrough Award. And TheStreet.com rated the HTC EVO 4G the No. 1 Android phone.

It features what’s been described as the best Android operating system to date, touch-screen technology, live-streaming video and dual cameras for video chat, plus a huge 4.3-inch screen.

The latest version HTC EVO Shift 4G also offers a full QWERTY keyboard, social networking integration and HD video recording in 720p format.

Other devices with 4G capability include the Novatel Wireless ultracompact MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot. The device lets you connect up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices—including tablets, eReaders, laptops or gaming consoles—to the Sprint 4G or 3G network. It delivers a wireless experience with no cables or software installation required.

The Mobile Hotspot has a battery life of up to four hours of usage and 60 hours of standby time. It can support the connectivity needs of a household at home or help a frequent traveler or even a small-business team connect to the Internet while on the road.

There’s an external display with status indicators for battery, signal strength and number of connected devices, and shared storage capability through a MicroSD slot for up to a 32GB memory card. It supports Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems.

To learn more, visit www.sprint.com/4G or call (800) Sprint1.

 

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Nothing Says Spring-Cleaning Like An Inbox Intervention

(NAPSI)—Each spring, millions of Americans turn their attention to tackling the big job of annual spring-cleaning at home, but most people overlook another important aspect that could use a deep clean: their online lives. From your PC to your email inbox, Americans admit cleaning out their inbox ranks among their top three most dreaded chores, alongside scrubbing the toilet and cleaning out the litter box. With frequent emails of social networking updates, newsletters, shipping updates, coupons and more, many Americans could benefit from an inbox intervention to regain control and restore order to their digital lives.

According to research from Windows Live Hotmail that examined inboxes across all email providers, the average American juggles three email accounts, with an average of 200 unread emails. Nearly 60 percent of people say that the volume of spam and junk mail they receive is a problem, and 70 percent of people actually feel they are missing emails because of the clutter.

The survey also found that despite feeling overwhelmed, Americans also seem to think they might actually read all that mail someday, as 56 percent of people admitted to holding on to emails for three weeks or longer, and of that, 31 percent admit to a year or more. Three million Americans suffer from hoarding but 20 times as many people are email hoarders. Dr. Robin Zasio, hoarding expert and star of the television series “Hoarders,” says that whether physical or digital in nature, clutter can be stressful and actually decrease productivity and happiness.

“Most people don’t hang on to an advertising flyer that arrived in the mail three months ago, let alone a few years ago,” says Dr. Zasio. “Surprisingly, one in five Americans admit to email hoarding and letting their emails pile up.”

Whether survey respondents have the habit of hoarding or the urge to purge, an overwhelming 80 percent of people want to have a more efficient email experience. Dr. Zasio recommends the following tips and advice, with the help of a few Hotmail tools, to give your inbox a thorough sweep this spring-cleaning season.

• Consolidate and Create Folders: Juggling several email accounts and don’t know how to keep them all organized? Hotmail lets you consolidate all your email accounts to one email hub so you can quickly search and organize conversations. Group similar messages in folders, file messages that you need to keep or reference at a later date and quickly get to the email you care about most.

• Sweep! Hotmail offers a feature called the Sweep button to help you sweep away mail to help you manage your email clutter. One click of the button and it will not only sweep out all chosen mail in your inbox, it will sweep all future mails, too. Sweep newsletters into an assigned folder, sweep junk mail into the deleted folder. And because we all know it’s easy for unwanted email to creep back into your inbox after you’ve deleted it, the Sweep feature lets you forever say good-bye to emails from unwanted senders with one click.

• Manage inbox clutter with conversation view: Create a system of organization and say bye-bye to missing email conversations. With Hotmail you can condense several email conversations into one view for easy-to-follow dialogue with friends and family. You can also arrange email by date or individual.

• Schedule uninterrupted organization time and don’t procrastinate: Procrastination can hinder your inbox’s organization. Take time to respond, file or delete email as it arrives. The longer you wait, the more it piles up and becomes a bigger problem. With so many distractions, it’s important to establish a time each day to process mail and ensure a clean and organized inbox. Turn off all distractions, such as Facebook or Twitter, and before you know it, the discipline becomes habit.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/hotmail.

 

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