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App manufacturers are not the only ones who can make money selling tiny wares and incremental upgrades. The barrier to entry for starting your own small business has been effectively knocked down by a variety of online merchants who are willing to hawk your wares for next to nothing. In truth, the merchandise isn’t entirely yours. In fact, these companies are often just selling your idea on top of their wares and you get a tiny slice for each sale, or for when the numbers of sales reaches a certain threshold.

Sites like RedBubble do everything for the artist; all they need to do is upload the content. RedBubble will, for example, make the T-Shirt with your art, sell it for you, manage the distribution and, of course, collect payment. The site lets you set the price above their fixed price. Yes, you could add as much as you want onto a $16 T-shirt, but most smart sellers know this means they won’t sell a single garment. Instead, you add 1%-to-5% (maybe 10% if you’re feeling strong) and then promote the dickens out of your product on the site and through various social networks.

RedBubble is just one of many destinations popping up to help the aspiring entrepreneur. They join established platforms like Lulu (self-publish books), and YouTube. YouTube has been inviting videographers into the commerce tent for years, letting them add AdSense accounts to popular videos and then sitting back and watching the pennies roll in.

As the economy sputters along, look for more and more of the sites helping you sell almost anything you can imagine and making you a “fortune”–one micro payment at a time.

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A Tablet?

By Bruce Newman · Comments (0)

2011 was supposed to be the “year of the tablet,” but as it turned out, it was just the “year of the iPad.” But I have to ask. If I have a smartphone for my on the move needs and a laptop at home, why would I want to add another device into my life?

Simply put, tablets aren’t really filling any true need right now—they are neither replacements for full-fledged computers nor smartphones. A tablet is a touch-screen media device that is actually most similar to a very advanced portable media player—or an MP3 player with a much larger screen. Yes, many of them have mobile service features, but currently none of them make phone calls via a traditional mobile provider. But, a tablet has its benefits. Easier to carry around than a laptop, easier to type than a phone, not to mention you look tech savvy.

But which one do you buy? The iPad, the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, HP’s WebOS-based TouchPad? An that’s just the beginning. Things to think about are:

  • Screen size
  • Storage
  • WIFI versus Cellular
  • What you’re using it for/ Apps
  • Which operating system you prefer

If you feel lost, this might help

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Identity, Authentication, and Authorization management are instrumental to an IT professional’s ability to control access. Look fora  system, or systems that can lead to a powerful end-to-end solution that can help simplify identity, strengthen authentication, and increase access management scenarios by adding automation and self-provisioning (e.g.: certificates, groups) capabilities.

On the other hand, you also need to think about your users. Like we said in our last post, it’s important for all security and authentication programs to be easy to use and allow seamless access to network resources, applications and data. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of a strong multi-factor authentication enough.

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Threat Management is critical in protecting your system from risks associated with programs, connections, websites, vulnerabilities, and even users. To address these types of risks, find software that is designed to mitigate against these types of threats.  While the software has become inherently more resistant to attack, users can still be tricked into installing or using malware. Make sure to invest in technologies that can protect customers against these attacks.

Remember, has safe as a computer needs to be, it still needs to work. No one wants to re-type passwords and okay processes every time they need to send an e-mail.  Using  combined technologies can help protect against internal and/or external threats.

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Store and backup

By Bruce Newman · Comments (0)

Lets be honest. Despite the impending failure of older systems and hours of suffering it can save, people don’t back up their data often enough. In addition to external drive, which are generally inexpensive in comparison to the hours of time wasted when your internal drive fails, there are online and cloud services available that will for little to no money store your information in a safe and responsible manner.

Dropbox is app that is so important and useful that if you don’t have it in your arsenal of tools then you need to drop everything and go get an account (kind of like Evernote above). Dropbox has been moved from “just an awesome app that I love to use” to an app that is essential for my work. I keep all my important files in Dropbox, share documents with co-workers, upload/offload pictures and video, share TextExpander snippets, use it for storage for apps like 1Password and others. It’s my portable, digital file system.

Also, if you aren’t backing up your computer regularly then you are proabaly insane, especially if that computer holds any important work or data files. Services like Carbonite, Mozy, or even something like SuperDuper! for Mac make a clone of your bootable drive so you don’t lose anything important.

External drives are can be portable and store as much as a terabyte of information on one $70-100 machine.

Think of backing up your data  as the dry food, end of the world, panty for your information. Clean it out regularly and pray that you never need to use it.

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The Future

By Bruce Newman · Comments (0)

1. Tablets will change the way you work. Instead of sitting around a darkened conference room, surreptitiously doing e-mail while enduring PowerPoint torture, you will hold meetings at a moment’s notice. These gatherings can include in-person and remote workers, discussing and swiping at the tablet’s contents in a communal manner, rather than the meetings of old that felt like a college lecture.

2. Mobile development happens from the ground up. A new development environment will drive new markets, competition, and companies. The days of taking existing applications and trying to mobilize those applications are numbered. New applications which are designed for mobility from the ground up and utilize location awareness, payment systems, and access to big data driven decision-making systems will force companies to restructure around the idea of mobility as the norm.

3. Welcome to consultant nation. The definition of an employee is changing. The pace of business operations will require CIOs in particular to quickly assemble groups of highly qualified employees and contractors to deliver new corporate capabilities. The ability to find, hire, and create high performance groups on the fly and then manage those groups will challenge the traditional development and performance models.

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The Holidays are a time to relax, and not think about work. Well not for us. While you’re on a plane to somewhere snowy and full of cheer, we sit in our chairs, biting our nails, thinking of all the things that could happen to your software at on vacation. (It’s a problem, we know.)

According to a new report from the Airlines Reporting Corp., there have been 82 incidents of unauthorized airline ticket issuance between August and November alone. That’s more than four times last years report. Why are these scams still around? According to the ARC, a company which handles payment between airlines and U.S. travel agents, there’s been an increase in phishing emails aimed at travel agent.

Between soaring free-ticket airline ticket scams and gadgets’ propensity to flop out of pockets or get snatched by the nimble-fingered, it’s a security jungle out there.

Two key challenges for travelers involve the use of unsecured wireless networks at hotels, airports and other public venues and the infiltration of smartphones through Bluetooth technology. When booking airline tickets, hotels or other arrangements, use a credit card rather than a debit card, because it decreases your liability. And never announce on social networks that you’re leaving town, if only to keep someone from breaking into your home.

So here are some steps to keep smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices safe:

  1. Carry your device where you can easily check that you’ve still got it—and where you would notice immediately if it were to disappear.
  2. Use a secure password on all devices that carry valuable data.
  3. Surf Protected. Stop using the free WiFi hotspots in cafes, airports and hotels, as they are constantly sniffed by cyber criminals. Instead, setup tethering between your mobile phone and tablet or laptop so that you are surfing safely.
  4. Spring for insurance. Consumers can further safeguard their lives by properly insuring their beloved gadgets. Most manufacturers and service providers offer easy methods to replace stolen devices and, for a nominal fee, offer exceptional peace of mind.
  5. Use full disk encryption or file-based encryption for anything containing sensitive information.
  6. Consider tracking software. There are multiple success stories of owners who’ve surreptitiously snapped photos of thieves, collected their Facebook account information or tracked them to their exact location; here’s one such story from The Guardian.Though traveling during the holiday season can be chaotic, there’s no reason consumers can’t keep their mobile devices safe, secure and in their possession at all times.

Though traveling during the holiday season can be chaotic, there’s no reason consumers can’t keep their mobile devices safe, secure and in their possession at all times.


Employee Time Wasters

By Bruce Newman · Comments (0)

Non-work-related internet usage results in an estimated 40% productivity loss per year for American businesses, according to Gartner; an IT research firm. If you think about all of the other activities people perform online that are not directly related to work, such as instant messaging, Tweeting, Facebook posting, online gaming, and watching videos on Hulu and YouTube, it is a little amazing that we get anything done at all.

According to, employees also download illegal or copyrighted content from peer-to-peer networks, view inappropriate websites and abuse e-mail services, making abusive use of company internet not only unproductive, but a legal nightmare.

Many companies are beginning to use employee-monitoring software to eliminate misuse of company time. These programs can restrict which sites employees are able to access from the company network as well as monitor which sites they are spending their time on. But, are these programs an invasion of personal privacy? Or does the productivity of the company override privacy issues?

Do you feel that your company would benefit from utilizing employee-monitoring programs, or have you not noticed the misuse of the company’s internet to be detrimental? Please comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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It was December 2008 the U of A first announced it would be consolidating and centralizing its e-mail systems. It signed a contract with Google to provide its faculty, staff and students with online access to e-mail, calendaring and document preparation tools. The University by now means stands alone in the push towards cloud sharing, as many Canadian academic institutions have made the move.

Although two-thirds of government agencies are moving towards the cloud, a recent survey released by Microsoft Canada, showed and equally amount of  corporate executives across the country say they are not using cloud-based services because they just don’t know enough to make major decisions about them.

So whats’ to know? There are many advantages to cloud computing, starting from square one with a major simplification of the overall IT environment. A cloud can facilitate easy of access with users’ ability to re-provision technological infrastructure resources. Well-designed cloud computing is suitable for business continuity and disaster recovery and puts computing resources under the control of, as opposed to the control of a centralized IT services.

For U of A cloud-based services have helped the university reduce costs through lower IT management and hosting fees, improve communication and collaboration between students, and equip them with the tools they need for their academic career.

Want to learn more? Contact us today

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The next twelve months are shaping up to be a ground-breaking year for the healthcare sector. As all parties to the health care system search for ways to rein in costs, the U.S. government is in the process of distributing the first of nearly $30 billion in checks to eligible medical providers.

Expert predictions for next year highlight the convergence of healthcare and mobile; clinical data being used to find the best treatment option; and continued adoption of EHRs (Electronic Health Record) as deadlines for Meaningful Use arrive. To qualify for the Meaningful Use payments, eligible physicians and hospitals must use a certified EHR platform and attest to having achieved a set of measures over a 90-day reporting period. They must prove that they’ve used their EHR to provide electronic prescriptions, record vital signs, provide patients with a clinical summary of office visits and more.

Investment in health information technology, the privacy and security of patient data, and ramping up social media efforts will be top concerns for health care organizations in 2012. One report found that  nearly three-quarters of health care organizations said they are using, or intend to use, patient data for purposes other than treating patients. But only 47% said they have addressed privacy and security risks associated with those uses. Though most patients are comfortable with sharing medical information for the benefit of their care, the vulnerability of these information heavy databases is of major concern.

With many major institutions pushing to meet the deadline, only time will tell if the system is secure and worthy of the 30 million dollar paycheck.

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