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Are you a fan of YouTube? I don’t spend a whole lot of time on YouTube myself, but I do take advantage of it. I have a personal blog and I’ve been going through somewhat of a musical Renaissance and have been posting a song or two each week as I remember the music I’ve loved and enjoyed throughout the years. I use YouTube to share those songs.

I personally don’t use it for much more than that, but apparently you can find all kinds of things there. My son used to watch (probably still does on occasion) Captain Sparkles—how many of you are familiar??? If not, Captain Sparkles is a guy who records himself playing video games, providing a look-see for gamers to get a sense of the game before buying as well as tips and tricks and the like and many other entertaining and informative offerings.

I love that I can find interviews with my favorite celebrities or random TV shows and movies since I don’t have live TV myself, or that the occasional fan girl treasure such as Benedict Cumberbatch narrating audiobooks, including Casanova!, are available.

I do have a channel of my own where I mostly have videos of my son’s marching band programs or jazz band concerts loaded so I can share with his grandmothers.

Are you a fan/user of YouTube? What do you use it for primarily? Do you have your own channel?

Jen FitzGerald
OfficeManager
StormsEdge Technology

Top Reasons to Be Thankful For Technology

When you’re making a list of things to be thankful for, computers and technology usually don’t make the list; as a matter of fact, they often get put on the “hate” list of things that frustrate us!

However, I think it’s time someone gave credit where credit is due! Here are the top 5 reasons why we should be thankful for all the new (and constantly evolving) technology we have available to us:

1.  It allows us all to be more “earth-friendly.” Thanks to e-mail and the Internet, as well as the ease in document imaging, we can all communicate with each other without having to waste paper and ink, not to mention stamps!

2.  We can instantly access information on practically any topic we want, whenever we want. I remember when I was a kid, all research required a trip to the library and old-fashioned research with a set of encyclopedias. Now, if you need to find a Mexican restaurant within 1 mile of your location, you can not only find one, but you can check out the menu and order online so your food is waiting for you when you show up!

3.  It keeps us in touch. Although it can easily be argued we’ve gone too far in this department (see the article to the right), cell phones, Blackberries, and even online forums (blogs, Facebook, MySpace) have enabled us to find and stay in touch with more people more frequently.

4.  It saves us time and money. Nothing has done more for the consumer than the Internet. In minutes, you can search on and compare various products and services without having to make a single phone call or (even better) getting in your car to drive about looking for what you want. Plus, you can order just about anything online and have it shipped to your door. Amazing!
    
What are WE most grateful for? Those of you that trust us to make all the computers and gadgets work the way they are supposed to – our customers!

Daniel A. FitzGerald
President & Owner
StormsEdge Technology

Can Apple Macs Get Viruses?

A very common misconception is that Apple Mac products cannot get viruses. Not true! There is no such thing as a 100% safe computer. Devices running OS X, Windows, Linux, Android or any other operating system are all capable of being infected with a virus or other malware.


However, the likelihood that an Apple Macintosh user gets a virus is much lower than for Windows users. In fact, many Apple users don’t even run any antivirus software on their computers. Whether that is a smart strategy is debated by many IT professionals.


A few of the reasons why Macs don’t get as many viruses as PCs are:
1. Mac OS X is based on the Unix operating system, which is one of the oldest and most secure operating systems around.
2. Microsoft Windows is used by many more people, so it’s a bigger and better target. Plus the way that Windows is built makes it easier for viruses to spread across computer networks.
3. Many of the tools designed to create viruses or malware are written for the Windows operating system.


Windows Threats Even For Macs
Many Mac users find themselves having to use Parallels, BootCamp, or other virtual software to run Windows only programs such as Microsoft Publisher. Because these Macs are now running a Windows operating system, they are now susceptible to Windows viruses. In addition, an Apple computer can certainly become a “carrier” of a Windows-based virus. This virus would not infect the Apple machine, but could infect other Windows machines on your network if it were to send that virus via email or across the office computer network.


And Even More Threats…
Any software, plug-in or other third party add-on that is installed onto any computer that connects to the Internet can introduce its own security risks. One of the most common ways that the “bad guys” are able to attack a Mac is through browser applications and browser plug-ins such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java and others. Just about every Mac user has all three of these plug-ins installed on their computers (and many more). These are a necessary part of business, but do introduce additional security risks for all computers.


The Human Factor
Although Apple Macs are less vulnerable to viruses, they are still operated by flawed humans who can still be the victim of trojan horses, phishing and other online fraud. Your best bet is to keep everyone informed about online security risks in your business, no matter the computer they’re using.

Daniel A. FitzGerald
Owner & President
StormsEdge Technology

Cleaning Your PC For Peak Performance

Any time is a good time to do a clean up of the computers, servers and electronic equipment in your office, both inside and out. Failure to thoroughly clean your computers and servers at least once or twice a year will result in decreased performance and possibly even system failures.

Here’s why:

Dust clogs the computer’s cooling system causing it to heat up, damaging sensitive electronic equipment. Dust can also cause fan noise and (believe it or not) slow performance!

Crumbs and dirt in your keyboard can cause keys to stick and crunchy sounds when typing. Plus, it’s just gross and unhealthy; do you know there are more germs on your computer keyboard than the average public toilet? Even dust, fingerprints and dirt build-up will make your computer monitor dim and fuzzy.

Here are 5 quick steps you can take today to clean up your systems and improve performance:

  1. Use Disk Cleanup to delete temporary files, unused programs and any other files taking up space and slowing things down. (Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup)
  2. Defrag your hard drive to speed up access to your data. (Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools > Defragment your hard drive).
  3. Update your spyware and antivirus software with the newest definitions. The internet changes fast. Having outdated security can slow you down dramatically.
  4. Make sure you have the latest security patches and updates installed and configured properly.
  5. Check your backups and conduct an emergency “restore” of the data. Remember, the best time to check your backups is when you DON’T desperately need to recover your data...

 

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Media Marketing Tools

New social media marketing tools seem to pop up every day, so here’s some help sorting the best from the rest:

1. Mention: Google Alerts for the social web. Mention helps you monitor your brand’s presence on social networks, forums, blogs and more. It also includes social features that allow you to respond to mentions of your brand and to share industry news that you find.

2. Buffer: Social media publishing plus powerful analytics. Buffer is a powerful social media tool that lets you schedule your updates to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and App.net.

3. Feedly: Content discovery. Finding great content to share with your audience is easy with Feedly. Not only can you subscribe to RSS feeds to keep on top of industry blogs and news sites, you can also use Feedly to discover new content related to your topics of interest.

4. Twitter Counter: Track Twitter progress. It can be easy to lose track of how your Twitter account is growing; that’s where Twitter Counter comes in. It’s a free service that tracks changes in your follower count and predicts future growth over time.

5. Zapier: Link favorite social services. Zapier connects the services you use independently. For example, if your team uses HipChat to keep in touch, you can use Zapier to set up automatic notifications inside HipChat rooms for Tweets, MailChimp campaigns or new RSS items.

6. Bottlenose: Intelligence for social networks. Bottlenose features a real-time search engine that queries all public information from social networks and groups and displays it in algorithmic order of importance. The result is a stream of content ranked by most to least important.

7. Followerwonk: Follower analysis for Twitter. Although you can use a tool like Twitter Counter to watch the growth of the number of your Twitter followers, you may need to analyze your followers more carefully. Followerwonk breaks down your followers into demographics so you can understand them better.

8. Quintly: Social analytics for brands. Quintly is a powerful tool for in-depth social media analytics, helping you track your business’s social media performance on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. Quintly also has benchmarking features that help you understand how your performance compares to that of competitors and to industry averages.

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

The Mobile Revolution

Did you know that the mobile phone in your pocket has more computing power than all of NASA in 1969? As marketers, we’ve never had more power to reach and influence people. Mobile drives strong local action. Consumers love using their device to discover what’s nearby, and then make a decision and take action.

Mobile has surpassed desktop in total search. In fact, mobile users take action. Almost every mobile owner has searched for something online, and 94 % have searched for something local. When they find something, they act fast: 90% take action within 24 hours; 70% call businesses after searching, and 66% have visited stores in person after doing mobile search.

This all spells opportunity for local businesses that have entrusted us to help them grow. The fact is, we haven’t been doing a very good job. In fact, we are failing. A startling 85% of Small-to-Medium Businesses (SMB) have no mobile-optimized experience.

Here are four ways to identify great leads:

  1. Old site = no mobile. If your client’s site looks old, it probably is. With the proper re-design or re-build, you can make any site look like a Fortune 500 site. You only get one chance to make a great first impression. Responsive design ensures that the site will optimize to any screen size. That includes mobile. As pages and information get updated, your customers benefit by only making one set of changes. 

  2. Mobile companion. It is possible to build for mobile only. At the very least, your customers should think about the functionality important to the mobile user. It’s important to remember, mobile has huge search reach. When a mobile user comes to your site, make it easy. It doesn’t have to be a duplication of your desktop site. 

  3. Social integration from the homepage. Search engines are recognizing and rewarding so-called social signals. Enormous online conversations take place on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to name a few. 

  4. Telephone number must be on the homepage. This one is very important and often overlooked. Obviously smartphones are capable of make outbound telephone calls and local brands must harness this unique strength.

There is huge opportunity. But if it’s not enough to motivate your sales teams, consider this. An alarming 57% would not recommend a site with a poor mobile experience. This is the best way to kill any chance of growing with word-of-mouth. And a whopping 40% have turned to a competitor’s site after a poor mobile experience.

The mobile revolution is here. Start thriving.

Interested in reading the full article? Click HERE!

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

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