Computers:

 

 

New Way
To Own Movies
Phone, Internet
and Cable TV
Learning
Network
Smartphone
Safety
Small Business Cybersecurity Small Business Visibility Innovation Creativity Small Business Monitoring

The New Way To Own Movies

(NAPSI)—More than 3 million movie lovers and their families have discovered the new way to view their collection of films and TV shows anytime, anywhere on a variety of devices.

No Subscription Fee

It’s called UltraViolet. It costs nothing to sign up and there is no subscription fee. Backed by a growing number of entertainment and technology companies, UltraViolet makes it easy to compile a digital collection of movies and TV shows that you can access anytime you want to watch them. View favorite films on a TV, personal computer, tablet or smartphone using any participating online streaming or download service. Watch movies while traveling, away at school, on vacation, at a friend’s home, on a commuter train, on an airplane or anywhere else. People are no longer tethered to the family TV room as the only place to watch.

Enjoying the benefits of UltraViolet is like being able to pull your DVD or Blu-ray Disc off the shelf electronically whenever and wherever you feel like watching it. Stream instantly or download movies and TV shows in advance to view them without an Internet connection or when streaming is impractical. People can now have their entire movie collections available without having to pack them and risk losing or damaging them.

When a person buys an UltraViolet release, they own the rights to the movie forever. What’s more, up to six family members can share a single digital collection on their own devices—so your child who is away at school can enjoy all the movies in your collection. Parental controls, such as viewing restrictions according to rating, protect families by ensuring that parents can monitor what their kids watch.

Easy To Use

It’s easy to sign up; no more difficult than registering for Facebook or e-mail. Ways include:

• Buying Blu-ray Discs or DVDs with UltraViolet stickers and following the easy instructions.

• Purchasing an UltraViolet release online from participating retailers, then following the registration instructions.

• Creating digital versions of movies you already own on DVD or Blu-ray Disc for a small fee. This disc-to-digital program was launched in April at Walmart stores nationwide. On-site support with trained staff is available to help set up accounts.

• Clicking “Sign Up Now” at www.uvvu.com to create your account in three easy steps.

Kids Enjoy It

UltraViolet makes repeated watching of favorite movies and TV shows convenient and affordable. Kids love to watch films over and over and UltraViolet makes doing so easy.

As home entertainment continues to evolve, consumers have made it clear they want more value for their purchases and improved access to the content they own. UltraViolet gives movie lovers more freedom, choice and flexibility than ever before.

For more information, visit www.uvvu.com.

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Design, Tech Pros Share Top Secrets For A Successful Move

(NAPSI)—Nearly 40 million Americans move every year and nearly half of those relocations occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day. With so many people on the move and so many things to remember, it's no wonder moving is viewed as a major stress. But it doesn't have to be that way if you know the secrets for a successful move.

David Gregg, a new-product journalist and senior editor from BehindtheBuy.com, and design expert Libby Langdon say that, first and foremost, it's important to have a clear action plan.

Planning ahead and being well organized will save you from feeling lost in your new home. You'll move in knowing that you'll have access to your daily necessities and key communication and entertainment devices, as well as knowing you've saved money and time.

"So often, families center their living room layout on the television," says Langdon. "Since technology has become such an important part of our lives, you want to make sure you've planned for it to all be up and running before you begin moving your furniture around."

To do this, Gregg suggests, "Have your phone, high-speed Internet and cable television connected on the first day. You can schedule the disconnect and reconnect of these services, in addition to picking up other stress-relieving moving tips, in one stop at www.cablemover.com."

Langdon says beware of moving old junk to a new space. "Get rid of what you don't use before you move." Further, Gregg says that leaving "old junk" behind presents the perfect opportunity to upgrade your technology and take advantage of safe, electronics disposal services offered by some retailers.

When it comes to unpacking, Libby says it's smart to have the movers load the moving truck so that larger items like dressers and storage pieces are unloaded first. That way, you can start putting items in them right away and get one step closer to feeling like your new house is your home.

Both experts agree that it's important to remember to leave everyday items, such as the coffeemaker, children's favorite toys, remote controls, blankets and pillows, aside for that last-load box, also known as the "survival box." This will make your first day and night in your new home easier and more comfortable.

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 Motivating The Teachers Of Today For The Students Of Tomorrow

(NAPSI)—Each year, thousands of students toss their caps into the sky and celebrate the start of their career as educators. Fast forward five years and it’s predicted that nearly 50 percent of those will have left the job.

What happens in those five years to turn fired-up graduates away from the profession they dedicated so much effort and passion towards? Education leaders around the world are seeking an answer to the conundrum, and are turning to an unexpected solution: social networks.

A study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development revealed a common set of challenges among its 34 member nations: attracting qualified graduates to the field of teaching and preventing current teachers from moving on to greener pastures.

So what’s behind this trend? Among the biggest contributors is the challenging work environment of the classroom.

Laura Rahn, an award-winning 4th grade teacher in California’s Mountain View Elementary School, has been teaching for 23 years. After all these years of experience, one of Rahn’s biggest challenges is managing her schedule and the constant workload—an issue she says is even more pronounced for teachers during their first few years in the classroom. Without peer support, new educators struggle to find ways to balance their work and life.

Says Rahn, “Each year, I wonder how I’ll get everything done. Networking with other teachers has always been a great source of innovative ways to stay ahead of all the paperwork and grading that go with being an elementary school teacher.”

To help stem the tide of teacher attrition, education and government leaders are investing in resources that improve collaboration between teachers and give them access to more resources. For example, in 2009 the Netherlands’ Ministry of Education, Culture and Science built an Internet-based portal called Wikiwijs (or “Wikiwise”). Available for educators from the primary to university levels, Wikiwijs helps them create, share and freely use open educational resources. In its first two years, more than 1 million lesson plans, tests and other classroom exercises have been uploaded to the Wikiwijs library.

Companies such as Microsoft are also helping. For more than 20 years, the Redmond, WA-based software company has been working with educators and government officials at all levels to help students acquire the skills they need for work and life. Empowering teachers is a natural outgrowth of that commitment.

“Microsoft firmly believes technology can play a significant role in the classroom, but the fate of education remains in the teacher’s ability to engage students,” says Anthony Salcito, vice president of worldwide education at Microsoft. “Through our many partnerships and programs, our goal is to improve educational outcomes for both students and educators, and have a real impact in the classroom.”

Two years ago, Microsoft launched the Partners in Learning Network, a global online community that brings together 4 million educators in 36 languages. Like Wikiwijs, the Partners in Learning Network provides teachers with a forum for sharing the best practices and classroom materials, and making connections that enrich their careers and their classrooms.

The Partners in Learning Network has benefited veteran teachers such as Rahn, as well as those who are early in their career. For Jerker Porat, a teacher from …rebro, Sweden, the biggest contributor to teacher attrition is the classroom routine that tends to seep in over time.

“Technology has allowed me to avoid that trap by sharing good ideas and by picking up someone else’s good ideas and making them my own,” said Porat.

Through Partners in Learning, Porat has developed a network of colleagues that help “break the walls” of his classroom, allowing him to take his students on a worldwide journey by building networks with classrooms in other countries.

Says Porat: “With the Partners in Learning Network, I found engaged teachers who wanted to share their ideas and were open for international collaboration. Not only has it helped me grow as a teacher, but I’ve received inspiration from all over the world!”

For more information about the Partners in Learning Network, visit www.pil-network.com.

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Smartphone Safety: What You Need To Know

(NAPSI)—Smartphones make life so much more convenient, but if they are lost or stolen, your personal information may be exposed. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your information.

Here are a few tips from CTIA—the international wireless telecommunications association:

Take steps to prevent theft. Before a phone is lost or stolen, protect your information by using passcodes and applications.

Passcodes—Use a passcode to make it harder for a thief to access your smartphone if it is lost or stolen.

Apps—Use apps that can track or locate a lost or stolen smartphone. Some apps may also enable you to remotely wipe a device or emit a loud alarm.

If your device is lost or stolen, contact your wireless provider immediately to suspend your service. CTIA and its members always want America’s wireless users to be safe.

Together with the Federal Communications Commission and major city police chiefs, CTIA and participating wireless companies have agreed to take steps to help protect consumers and their private information on smartphones.

Paramount to preventing smartphone thefts is educating consumers about the tools and features that carriers, device manufacturers and app creators already offer. By using these passcodes and apps, consumers can protect themselves and their personal information on their wireless devices.

In addition, participating carriers have agreed to implement and deploy databases to prevent thieves from reactivating stolen smartphones in the U.S. and, when appropriate, internationally.

By using a smartphone’s unique identifying number, wireless providers will help prevent smartphones that are reported by their customers as stolen from being activated and/or provided service on their own networks.

The U.S. wireless industry has always been dedicated to advancing public safety and enhancing the security and protection of its customers.

For more information, visit www.ctia.org.

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Tips For Avoiding Social Networking Disasters

(NAPSI)—Small businesses need effective, low-cost marketing strategies, and tools like Facebook and Twitter deliver megahits for microbudgets. Yet while many business owners are being advised to engage customers via social media, not all are informed of the risks.  

Social network sites are fertile waters for Internet pirates who troll for unsuspecting victims, hoping to steal data by planting malware in the form of computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses and spyware.

If you are a small-business owner, work for one or hope to become one, these tips can help keep your business data secure:

• Share carefully. Clearly identify what kind of business information should be on social networks. Don't post confidential information, such as financial information, passwords or anything else you would not want shared.

• Guide employees. Develop a social media policy on the potential risks and ways to participate safely. Include personal and professional best practices, and teach your people how to avoid scams. Remind employees to limit personal comments to their own personal pages.

• Beware new twists. Thirty percent of all viruses that infect computers originate from spam, targeting users with seemingly legitimate posts, such as "I just checked how many people have viewed my profile." Cyber thieves target easy victims first: individuals and organizations that haven't adequately protected their computers, networks, mobile devices, Wi-Fi and Internet connections. Another technique is "likejacking" or "clickjacking": When users click on a link, the site steals their Facebook account and spreads the spam to all their contacts.

• Don't automatically click on URL links. If an offer in a social post sounds too good to be true—"Click here to win an iPad"—it probably is.

• Protect your passwords and privacy. Using the same password on every site can easily expose your business to account takeover. If that password is hacked or leaked, hackers can access your other site information. Instead, use different, strong alphanumeric (both letters and numbers) passwords for each of your social media accounts and keep them regularly updated.

• Stay current with cybersecurity. Keeping your computer security updated is the smartest way to elevate your defenses against cybercrime. Deluxe Security Solutions is a good security resource for current protection products and services such as McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2012, which defends against online viruses, malware and spyware. Through Deluxe, you can subscribe to a fraud and identity protection service such as EZShield Business Identity Restoration. This service offers a fully managed identity process with certified resolution specialists to assist business owners.

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Supporting America’s Small Businesses

(NAPSI)—Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and Americans are doing what they can to support them-from participating in Small Business Saturday to shopping at online stores that support their growth.

One such online resource was created to help small and minority-owned businesses across the U.S. reach as many potential customers as possible.

The Main Street Revolution initiative, which recently celebrated its second anniversary, provides a national marketing and distribution channel for small businesses so they can sell their products on Overstock.com and O.biz (the site’s business-to-business website). The products are consolidated into a “Main Street” store on the company’s website.

The initiative is designed to increase the visibility of small and minority-owned businesses that currently lack exposure to national markets.

The initiative currently has over 200 vendors, providing consumers with a new way to shop locally, with one location to visit in order to find quality and affordable products “Made in the U.S.A.” By joining the network, these small businesses can reduce their costs yet open their products to a mass audience. It also represents an opportunity for producers and consumers nationwide to participate and contribute to the national recovery effort.

The initiative works closely with local chambers of commerce and small-business administrations across the country to connect with local businesses.

This approach has worked for Jiti Pillows. The company sells a wide selection of elegant, artistic, organically designed, decorative pillows and bedding with luminous colors that stimulate the imagination.

The two owners, along with two artisans, painstakingly sew these great creations by hand in their Los Angeles studio. Having been with Main Street Revolution since inception, their product count has grown 127 percent compared to last year, to a total of 307 on-site.

The big draw for homegrown, small businesses like Jiti is that the initiative allows them to lower their marketing and supply chain costs and offers them national visibility for local and specialty goods. Numerous partners have had to quit their regular day jobs just to keep up with the many orders they receive. At a time when small businesses are still feeling the sting of the recession, the company model empowers small businesses to thrive and keep the spirit of entrepreneurship alive.

Spot To Shop For Bargains

Overstock.com is a technology-based retail company offering customers a wide variety of high-quality products at great value, with superior customer service. The company provides its customers with the opportunity to shop for bargains by offering suppliers an alternative inventory distribution channel.

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Workplaces Of The Future Unlock Innovation

(NAPSI)—As workers use technology to be more mobile, flexible and productive, cubicle farms are giving way to the workplace equivalent of open pastures.

Organizations are redesigning workspaces to encourage creativity and collaboration, according to expert panelists at the recent “Future of Work” webinar presented by Apollo Research Institute. Open floor plans and public-space workplaces—which replace traditional offices and cubes—are new hotbeds of innovation, say the industry leaders and future forecasters who convened for the event.

“Smart technology and other machines have taken on many tasks, freeing up human beings to use their core strengths of higher-level intelligence, innovation and creativity,” said panel moderator Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, vice president and managing director of Apollo Research Institute. “But optimizing human intelligence requires looking at how and where we work, how workers connect to one another and how we collaborate to solve problems.”

For example, entrepreneurial companies such as Facebook focus less on a hierarchical chain of command and more on individual responsibility and self-motivation. These companies create an internal “creative commons” in which technology allows all workers to share ideas and solutions that impact the organization’s direction.

“At Facebook, we talk a lot to employees about individual accountability and ownership and the importance of a strong, cohesive ‘hacker-based’ culture that can break things open to make them stronger,” said panelist Stuart Crabb, who heads learning and development at Facebook.

Crabb noted that flatter, more democratic organizations appeal strongly to the newest workforce: the Millennial Generation. “Being able to develop and use their individual talents in tangible ways is critical to motivation among Millennials,” he said.

As formal structures decline and social networks expand, workers will need freedom to control where and how they work, according to panelist Jim Keane, president of Steelcase Group, a leader in workplace design and manufacturing. The traditional one-size-fits-all office is outdated and organizations now seek environments that unlock creativity, innovation and speed.

That means using mobile technology to link internal workers with global collaborators and replacing cubicles with more adaptable spaces that invite teamwork.

Keane said the most effective workplaces are those that help attract, develop and engage workers by providing choice and control. “Everyone can reach their potential through the choices they make,” said Keane.

Access the “Future of Work” webinar or read the report by the Institute for the Future for Apollo Research Institute at http://apolloresearchinstitute.org.

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Small Businesses: Add “Manage Online Presence” To Your To-Do List

by Russ Madlener,
Director of SMB Marketing for Microsoft

(NAPSI)—Small- to midsized business (SMB) owners wear multiple hats, but the only one most ever wanted on their heads was that of “successful business owner.” However, today’s SMB owners typically manage countless functions that fall outside and can detract from their core products or services, including one they may not know is critical in today’s business landscape: managing their company’s online presence.

Most SMB owners can’t rationalize investments that don’t boost their bottom lines, and many are unclear about whether being active online can grow their businesses. However, data suggests an online presence makes good business sense: According to Mediabistro, 50 percent of small-business owners have gained customers through social media.

Meanwhile, consumers increasingly prefer businesses to communicate with them online, as opposed to one-direction, traditional marketing methods like direct mail. The combination of these trends presents a sizable challenge for the SMB owner: With so many hats and so little time, how does the small business optimize and manage its online presence? Consider these tips:

• Keywords are key. SMBs should identify keywords that customers would utilize in an online search and incorporate them in their websites and their domains (e.g., www.raleighaccountingfirm.com), if possible. This approach increases the chances that the URL will rank high on search result lists.

• Get social. “Go where your customer is” has never been truer. According to The Nielsen Company, the U.S. Internet user averages three times more minutes on social networks and blogs than on e-mail. Smart SMBs are participating in social networking sites where customers frequent, including obvious choices like Twitter and Facebook and fast-growing sites like Pinterest, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Yelp.

• Go ahead…ask. Because consumers place unparalleled trust in the opinions of other consumers, SMBs should ask satisfied customers to post reviews on social sites or write testimonials for their websites. Loyal customers will be happy to promote reviews and experiences via “share” buttons for Facebook and Twitter.

• Allow someone else to wear the hat. It can be helpful to use a tool such as Brandify, which simplifies the building, evaluating and monitoring of an SMB’s online brand. SMB owners can log on to the Microsoft-sponsored site quickly and for free to receive a score of their company’s online presence. Based on the SMB’s online strengths and weaknesses, Brandify then recommends simple steps for improvement. The dashboard also offers real-time insights as to how an SMB’s online activities impact its overall Web presence score and adjusts over time based on improvements to the company’s profile or actions of competitors.

For more information on how Brandify can help manage an SMB’s online presence, visit www.brandify.com.

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