COMPUTERS

Cloud Computing

Building on Broadband Copying on the Go Disaster Readiness Keep Your Information Safe College Degree Online Trick Out Your Tablet Call and Text World Wide Free

How Cloud Computing Is Helping Small Businesses Compete And Thrive

(NAPSI)—In today's economic climate, small businesses need every advantage they can find to get ahead. New technologies in the form of cloud computing are helping small businesses level the playing field against bigger competitors.

Cloud computing makes it possible for companies to access powerful software applications via the Internet for a simple monthly fee. Because the applications are delivered via the Internet, every small business can get access to the same innovations and tools that bigger competitors have been using for years. For instance, Microsoft Corp. recently launched Microsoft Office 365, which brings together the company's familiar Microsoft Office applications with its enterprise email, videoconferencing and other collaboration and communication capabilities delivered as a subscription service.

Using the cloud can help your business do the following:

1. Build a "borderless office." A good cloud service will connect you with colleagues and customers virtually anywhere via click-to-chat, videoconference or shared desktops, to work together whether you're across town or around the globe. Eliminating unnecessary travel by using these online tools will not only save on costs, it will help you run a green business.

Chaundra Smith, owner of Naturally Me, makes handcrafted, natural body care products in Durham, N.C. Using the cloud, she has set up a virtual team of consultants and staff members who all work together and collaborate in their "borderless" office.

Tip: Look for a cloud service that lets you make PC-to-PC voice and video calls and hold online meetings on the fly. You'll want to be able to share your desktop, online whiteboard and presentations with colleagues—as if you're in the same room, even when you're a city or continent away.

2. Work how you want, where you want. The cloud untethers you from your desk and keeps you connected wherever you are. Web-enabled and offline access* to your important documents, email, contacts and calendars helps you stay nimble and responsive.

Team members at high-performance carmaker and parts company Shelby American, Inc. in Las Vegas travel frequently around the globe and require remote connectivity** to collaborate on new product development. Cloud-based tools help everyone stay connected and keep the business moving while out of the office.

Tip: Look for a cloud service that works on a PC, Mac and smartphone,** with consistent experience on each device. The best services help you edit spreadsheets, presentations and other documents with others in real time and view files from a browser or mobile device.

3. Invest in tomorrow without breaking the bank today. The cloud lets your small business run on the same technology that powers the Fortune 500, without hiring an army of IT experts, so you can focus on your core business. Beyond cost savings, many small businesses realize additional benefits after they move to the cloud—better collaboration among employees, customers and partners means quicker sharing of ideas and problem resolution. A cloud-powered small business is more nimble and prepares you to adapt to changing business needs—now and in the future.

Imagination Yoga, a small, family-owned business in Portland, Ore., teaches a "kindness- based" curriculum, instructing children on yoga concepts and storytelling to spark their creativity and get them exercising. The company plans to use cloud-based collaboration to market its services, connect with more schools and families across the country, and create online enrollment options for customers, which saves time and money. The cloud also allows every Imagination Yoga employee to access the company's Microsoft Outlook calendar, keeping everyone on the same page.

Tip: Look for an offering that can grow with you but also work well with the tools you already use. You'll also want to safeguard your data with business-grade privacy, security and disaster recovery capabilities.

Imagination Yoga uses cloud computing to connect effectively with schools to reach and teach more students.

* Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 required for offline capabilities.

** An appropriate device, Internet access and supported browser and/or network carrier connectivity are required. Data plan charges may apply.

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Building Out Broadband Creates New Jobs

(NAPSI)—The proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile means good news for the economy.

Together, AT&T and T-Mobile will build a network that will provide high-speed wireless Internet access to more than 97 percent of Americans, many in rural areas. Besides improving broadband availability and quality of service, the investment needed to build this network is expected to create as many as 96,000 new jobs.

"Broadband deployment is a powerful job creator and will meaningfully improve the quality of life for millions of Americans," said former Congressman Rick Boucher, Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) honorary chairman. "There are very few steps that can be taken that would do more to help the American economy today than extending broadband service nationwide."

According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), this additional infrastructure investment will result in:

• Direct jobs with the carriers;

• Supplier jobs with companies that provide products and services including network equipment, handset devices and software applications; and

• Induced jobs as a result of the general increase in economic activity.

As a result of the merger, an additional $8 billion will be invested in building out this network, resulting in 1 million more square miles of network coverage nationwide, including currently uncovered small towns and rural areas.

Better broadband access will also provide benefits to economic development—particularly small businesses, education and health care. Faster data speeds pave the way for innovation and growth. Small businesses will have the opportunity to grow their customer base, improve their day-to-day operations, create greater organizational efficiencies and increase their profits.

Additionally, network expansion will benefit local businesses by enabling them to link to markets across the country and around the world, competing in the global marketplace, no matter where they are located.

Increasing access to broadband will also allow students to benefit from opportunities, including advanced distance-learning applications and unique educational resources, whether from the library down the street or a university across the Atlantic Ocean.

With a wireless device such as a smartphone or laptop, a student can tap into a world of online education and better reach his or her full academic potential, even in settings outside traditional classroom walls.

Finally, increasing the availability of high-speed broadband Internet will give more Americans access to telemedicine, saving money and saving lives. Telemedicine helps increase patient access to primary and specialty care, allows for remote health monitoring and, especially in rural communities, helps patients cut down on long-distance travel to and from health care facilities.

Broadband expansion means better opportunities related to jobs, education and health care.

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Copying On The Go

(NAPSI)—You may feel like the star in an espionage movie when you take out a palm-size device that lets you copy flash drives at the speed of 2GB per minute, but in the future, such compact, portable devices may be standard equipment for anyone who wants to make copies without a computer.

For example, the Professional 2-copy USB Duplicator, which weighs only 12 ounces, can easily slip into a briefcase, purse or backpack for fast, portable duplicating.

Previously, most users required a desktop or laptop computer to duplicate a USB flash drive. But a portable duplicator can help sales-people copy PowerPoint presentations, brochures or sales literature; engineers and technicians to transfer documents in-field; presenters to easily disseminate material at trade shows or seminars; and teachers to pass out study materials and homework. Even those in creative fields can employ it to distribute copies of their product, be it music, video, literature or graphic art. As an added bonus, the device also verifies the specs of most any USB flash drive. For more information on EZ Dupe's 2-copy USB Duplicator, go to www.officedepot.com or visit any Office Depot location.

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Disaster Readiness Means Smart Business

(NAPSI)—Disasters, whether physical (hurricane, flood) or virtual (network breach), can occur anywhere and can paralyze, even destroy a business—but there are ways a firm can protect itself. Businesses located in disaster-prone areas might maintain a plan for disaster readiness but businesses everywhere should also be prepared, because virtual disasters can happen anywhere, at any time. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster. Of the remaining companies, at least 25 percent will close in two years.

Having a disaster preparedness plan in place can go a long way toward ensuring that your business doesn't meet this fate. The following tips will help you assemble a virtual business "go bag":

• Use cloud-based software for storage and more—Cloud-based software lets you store information in a secure, off-site location and access it from anywhere you have an Internet connection. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), cloud computing solutions can allow employees to access work files and simultaneously edit documents from any location—even if they're unable to physically make it to the office.

• Keep your technology updated—Maintaining updated technology might prevent a virtual disaster from ever happening in the first place, since updates usually provide security patches and new protective features. Install updates whenever prompted to do so or adjust your PC's setting to install updates automatically.

• Understand your insurance policies—Many people don't take the time to read through all the fine print on insurance policies, but you don't want to find yourself doing so after a disaster strikes. Be sure you completely understand your insurance plans and policies, including which physical disasters are covered, what forms or filings need to be completed after a disaster and so on.

• Get your finances in order—A disaster might disrupt your business operations but rest assured, your financial obligations will hum right along. You'll still need to pay bills, make payroll and pay suppliers, so be certain you know what (or where) all these accounts are and have contact info for all these parties. Also, check to see that your financial management system is backed up properly.

For more information on helping your business prepare for and withstand the impacts of disaster, visit www.MicrosoftBusinessHub.com, where you'll find "Disasters happen. Is your business ready?"—a handy e-guide for SMBs.

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Advice On Bringing Your Own Device To Work

(NAPSI)—When employees can have all their personal and work information at their fingertips, it can be a big help—and a major headache—to them and their employers.

The Trend

Increasingly, workers today are bringing their personal devices to the company IT department to enable access to e-mail and other productivity apps on them.

According to a recent Forrester report, three-quarters of U.S. workers pick the smartphone they want rather than accept IT's choice. What's more, another recent survey discovered increasing numbers of enterprises across all industries are supporting a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model, and in more than half of those instances, employees shoulder the cost of their device and service plan.

The Problem

So now employees can use their favorite devices for work but companies must support more platforms and deliver business apps including e-mail, chat and portals on iPads, iPhones, Android and Windows phones. That means that data and apps will be used from any location over any network—which can endanger sensitive company information, potentially getting workers or their employers into trouble.

To keep confidential data stored on personal mobile devices from falling into the wrong hands, many IT departments turn to third-party solutions to better secure, monitor, manage and support the variety of mobile devices used by employees. Using one of these solutions, IT organizations can implement security controls such as passwords and remote wipe and lock, which lets IT erase corporate data from a mobile device in the event it's lost or stolen.

The challenge is that most employees don't want to enter a complex password every time they need to make a phone call, send a text message or update their Facebook status. Plus, when employees use their personal phones for work, a remote wipe could erase personal apps and data in addition to corporate data and applications.

A Solution

Fortunately, companies such as Good Technology take a different approach to these BYOD security challenges and keep the best interests of employees and the company in mind. Good helps companies separate and secure corporate data while leaving employees' private information untouched.

For example, rather than remotely wiping the entire device, IT can wipe only corporate data, leaving personal data and applications intact. This lets employees use their personal mobile devices at work without having to worry about compromising company information.

Keeping Information Secure

1. Don't use cloud programs on your mobile device to share corporate files and data.

2. Beware of e-mail fraud. Don't send e-mail to anyone you don't know or respond to e-mails from unknown sources without first verifying that they are legitimate.

3. Secure your device's settings and have it automatically lock after five minutes.

4. Don't forward e-mails from your corporate address to private e-mail accounts, especially e-mails with attachments.

5. Don't use check-in apps everywhere.

6. Turn location setting off when not using apps that require it.

7. Be careful of beta programs/apps—they can be dangerous, as in many cases the developers haven't sorted out security yet.

Further Information

To learn more, visit www.good.com or call (866) 7-BE-GOOD.

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College Degree Required For Sixty Percent Of U.S. Jobs By 2018: Four Factors To Consider When Contemplating An Online Degree

(NAPSI)—As a new year begins, we often evaluate our lives—where we are and where we'd like to be. It's no surprise that many Americans are making education a priority as they set their personal goals for 2012.

"The unemployment rate for people who have never gone to college is more than double what it is for those who have gone to college," says Dr. Mary Hawkins, president of Bellevue University. "And during the next 10 years, nearly eight in 10 new jobs will require workforce training or a higher education. These statistics make it clear that completing some form of higher education is the best tool to meet the challenges of a 21st century economy."

If you're considering going back to school, chances are you've wondered about online learning. Is it legit? Will I get the same quality education I would in a classroom? Will my degree be as respected as much as it would if I attended in person? The answer is, surprisingly, the same as with a traditional, in-class situation—there are varying levels of online degrees and you must do your research to find the best one for you.

Here are four factors you should consider if you're contemplating getting your degree online:

1. Just as with an in-class program, you want to make sure the institution you attend is regionally accredited. This designation is an indicator that the institution voluntarily reports on the quality of its programs and submits to assessment to ensure quality offerings.

2. Determine whether or not you must be online at a particular time each week; if you can enter the virtual classroom when it is most convenient for you. Based on your lifestyle, decide which of these formats will best set you up for success. Maybe you have a hectic, unpredictable schedule and you need to do the work when you can fit it in. Or perhaps you are the kind of person who benefits most from a set time each week to attend class.

3. Online learning is still relatively young in higher education. Some institutions, like Bellevue University, have been offering online degree programs since the mid-'90s. It is important to make sure the school you choose has had time to optimize its online offerings.

4. Ask if the entire degree program is offered online or if it is just one component of the larger program. Some universities require both online and in-class participation within the same program. If you are interested in this type of blended program, make sure you ask how much content is delivered online and how much is delivered in class so that you can plan how you are going to fit the components into your life.

Lastly, please know that when you reach your goal, your degree will not indicate whether you studied online or in class. You don't need to worry about perceptions from those who still doubt online learning. What's most important is determining if earning your degree can get you to where you want to go and if online learning is the best way to fit getting a degree into your already busy life.

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Five Ways To Trick Out Your Tablet

(NAPSI)—If you're like many Americans, you—or someone you love—bought or received a tablet as a gift recently. The tablet market is booming. Lighter than laptops and more powerful than smartphones, tablets are now the go-to device for anyone looking to take their music, entertainment and, begrudgingly, some work with them.

According to a recent study from Infinite Research, Americans adoption of tablets—such as the iPad or Galaxy Tab—is happening at a faster pace than any other electronic device in history, including computers, game consoles and smartphones.

In fact, a recent report from eMarketer projects that by 2014, nearly 90 million Americans will be using tablets monthly. And already, almost half of the respondents in a Google AdMob survey of tablet users said they use their tablet more often than their computer or laptop. This popularity is driving people to find ways to make using tablets easier and more convenient.

To this end, tablet accessories can help take entertainment and content creation to the next level. Here are five fun ways to trick out your tablet:

Type Up a Best Seller

Tablets can be used for more than surfing the Web and reading books. With the array of wireless keyboards designed for tablets, heavy-duty typing is completely doable. Compact and wireless keyboards like the Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2 (also for Samsung Galaxy Tab) combine the luxury of typing on a comfortable surface within a protective case that also holds your tablet upright.

Work and the Web, Smarter

Touch-screen cursor control isn't the best for everything, especially when working on something that requires more than simple pointing or clicking. In fact, a mouse is a must-have for any task that requires formatting text and images, or navigating the Web for any length of time. No longer just accessories for PCs, there are a few mouse options designed for tablets. Look for one that brings laser precision to interacting with the tablet, and Bluetooth wireless pairing will make it easy to use on the go.

Beat Your Highest Score

Strong graphic performance and processing speed make tablets a great tool for gamers—from the casual to the serious. If you want game-winning precision not afforded by touch-screen controls, attach the Logitech Joystick for iPad or iPad 2 for the familiar feel and responsiveness of a thumb-stick-style controller.

Get Help in the Kitchen

The kitchen is one place a tablet can be at the center of a domestic experience. Using an adjustable tablet stand, the chef can pull up and display an online recipe while being inspired by a favorite playlist, all at once.

Set the Backyard BBQ to Music

Bringing music to your backyard can be a hassle, often compromising selection or sound. However, when an iPad (iPhone or iPod touch) can wirelessly stream music to a speaker, such as the Logitech Wireless Speaker for iPad (also available for Android devices), you enjoy more control over the music. Plus, the speaker can blast tunes from your tablet's full library from up to 50 feet away.

Whether you're looking for more function or more fun, you can trick out your tablet with accessories designed to make your life easier.

Learn More

To learn more about Logitech tablet accessories, visit www.Logitech.com.

 

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New Mobile App Lets Users Call And Text Worldwide For Free

(NAPSI)—There's good news for iPhone® and Android™ users-a new mobile app provides free calling and texting between users worldwide.

Vonage Mobile® is a free downloadable app that lets users talk and text worldwide for free with anyone else who uses the app (data rates may apply). It also provides ultra low-cost calling to friends and family who don't have the app. It's a combination of the best free and paid communications apps, all rolled into one.

The new app is the latest offering from Vonage, a provider of communications services connecting individuals through mobile and broadband devices worldwide. Users don't have to be a Vonage home phone customer to use the app—just download it for free from iTunes® or Android™ Market.

Significant Cost Savings

When calling friends and family who don't have the app, users can make calls globally with per-minute rates that are on average 70 percent less than major mobile carriers and 30 percent less than Skype. Rates start at .016 cents/min., and calling credit is available in $4.99 and $9.99 increments, making it one of the most cost-effective solutions for international calling.

A Free Global Network

Users can instantly build a free global calling and texting network using the app's multi-invite system from their existing contacts. Even more exciting, Vonage Mobile uses the phone's existing mobile number and contact list, eliminating the need for unique user names and duplicate identities for contacts. It's incredibly easy to use, allowing users to take full advantage of the features without the hassle of having to leave the app.

A Comprehensive Solution

"Vonage Mobile consolidates the best features of our prior applications, while adding important functionality, better value and improved ease of use," said Marc Lefar, CEO of Vonage. "It combines the best of free high-def voice and messaging along with incredible value for traditional international calls, all while using the existing mobile number and address book for unsurpassed ease of use."

Vonage Mobile works over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G wireless data networks, worldwide. In addition to iPhone and Android smartphones, the app also works on iPad®, iPod Touch® and Android™ Tablets.

For more information on Vonage Mobile, please go to iTunes, Android Market or www.vonagemobile.com.

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